German defense firm urges Czech-Hungarian cooperation in arms manufacturing

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Hungary and the Czech Republic should cooperate in defense manufacturing in the future, said the CEO of German defense contractor Rheinmetall Defence, Oliver Mittelsdorf, adding that his company has already been working together with the Rába truck and specialty parts manufacturer in Győr, northwestern Hungary.

“We should find ways of cooperation between Hungarian and Czech companies,” Mittelsdorf said in an interview with Czech business portal Ekonomický denník. As we reported earlier, Rheinmetall signed a €2 billion ($2.38 billion) contract last month with Hungary’s Defense Procurement Agency (VBÜ) for the delivery of an unspecified number of Lynx KF41 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), the largest single defense deal in recent Hungarian history.

While the number of vehicles to be purchased was not made public, defense analysts put the number between 210 and 220. Now, Rheinmetall is one of the bidders for the Czech Republic’s tender to deliver 210 IFVs in a 52 billion Czech crown deal, basically the same as the Hungarian agreement. Rheinmetall is already in cooperation with Hungary’s Rába Automotive Group, as it has been supplying parts for Rába’s all-terrain military trucks.


Although Mittelsdorf did not mention this in the interview, Rába has recently completed a 16-year delivery program of trucks for the Hungarian Armed Forces and now has a sizeable free production capacity. Mittelsdorf said that Central European countries could only benefit from closer cooperation in defense manufacturing, within either a NATO or an EU framework.

Hungary does already have some defense cooperation with the Czech Republic: Under a license from Česká zbrojovka, it is producing pistols, submachine guns and carbines for its armed forces.

Should Rheinmetall win the Czech tender, it would be a major breakthrough for the German company, as currently the Lynx — a cross between an armored personnel carrier and a light fighting vehicle — is a new concept and yet to be adopted by NATO armies.

Mittelsdorf also pointed out that the Hungarian and Czech armed forces are similar in size and have comparable needs. 

Title image: Lynx infantry fighting vehicle (IFV). Source: Rheinmetall MAN)

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