The Hungarian Armed Forces continues the upgrade of its Air Force but will also upgrade its armored vehicles and anti-aircraft missile batteries, Defence Minister Tibor Benkő said.
The upgrade of the air capability is mainly focused on three areas: improving combat capabilities of the Gripen multirole jet aircraft, restarting discontinued pilot training in Hungary and the acquisition of additional helicopters.
In order to re-establish pilot training, Hungary will purchase an additional four ZLIN basic trainer aircraft from the Czech Republic (it now currently has two of those), while the infrared capabilities of the Gripen fighters are also being upgraded. The Hungarian Air Force has 12 Swedish JAS 39 Gripens in active service and another two converted for training.
Benkő said that after Russia upgraded four of the Air Force’s Mi-24 attack helicopters (out of a total of eight), another four will be purchased from Russia.
Regarding ground forces, Benkő said the current (Russian) KUB anti-aircraft missile systems will be complemented with newer and more capable batteries, but did not specify what type.
He also said that the basic armored vehicles of the ground forces (600 Russian BTR-80 armored personnel carriers) will remain in service and will also receive armor and technological upgrades. The tank will also be upgraded, Benkő said, but did not provide any details. Hungary currently has 34 Russian T-72 main battle tanks in service, another 130 in reserve and an unspecified number used for target practice.
Title image: Hungarian T-72 main battle tank at an exercise. MTI/Noémi Bruzák