The Hungarian Army took delivery of the second batch of three Airbus H-145M light military helicopters. Brigadier General József Koller, commander of the Szolnok helicopter base has announced.
He added that while the coronavirus pandemic delayed the delivery, the German factory did not halt production and the schedule will remain unchanged for the delivery of the remaining aircraft.
“In line with the previous agreed upon delivery schedule, 18 helicopters will have been delivered by the end of the year,” Koller said.
Hungary took delivery of its first two H145M helicopters last November. The total 20 helicopters will be delivered in different configurations, making them capable of respectively troop transport, medevac, search and rescue, ground troop fire support, reconnaissance, and day and night border patrol.
The new helicopters require a radically different support infrastructure than the outgoing Soviet models, meaning that the Szolnok base will shortly begin the construction of new hangars to house the aircraft, which are temporarily kept in maintenance tents built by a Romania-based Italian contractor.
The H145M will replace the Hungarian Air Force’s 14 Soviet Mi-17 utility helicopters. The helicopters that will play a potential combat role will all have Airbus’ highest H-Force armament system.
The Hungarian Air Force also has 16 Airbus H225M “Super Puma” multi-role helicopters on order to replace its Mi-24 helicopters. The H225M models can serve as troop transport, combat search and rescue or special operations support and have all-weather capabilities, including night vision.
As part of its extensive “Zrínyi 2026” armed forces modernization program, Hungary is also buying 44 German-made Leopard 2A7+ main battle tanks, new integrated air defense missile systems, 24 PzH self-propelled howitzers, and is completely replacing its troops’ small arms in a cooperation and licensing deal with Czeska Zbrojovka. The country also plans to add several hundred Turkish armored combat vehicles.
Currently, the only large question mark is the future of its fighter fleet, as the lease of its 14 JAS 39 Gripen Swedish multirole aircraft will expire in 2026.
Title image: Airbus H145M light military helicopters at the Szolnok helicopter base. (Zoltán Havran/Magyar Nemzet)