Hungary may buy state-of-the-art Italian attack helicopters

Italian AW249 attack helicopter. (
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

Hungary may be discussing the purchase of Italian AW249 attack helicopters, business daily Világgazdaság reports.

Italian media reports say that Italian-Hungarian bilateral military talks took place last week in Florence. The meeting was held at the headquarters of Segredifesa, the highest technical and administrative body of the Italian defense department, which is responsible for military equipment and purchasing.

The Italian newspapers reported that the Italian delegations were led by Lieutenant General Luciano Portolano, who is also secretary general for defense, while the Hungarian side was represented by László Tömböl, Hungary’s acting national armaments director. Tömböl is a retired general and former senior advisor to the Defense Development Secretariat of the Prime Minister’s Office.

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Portolano expressed his hope that the already friendly Italian-Hungarian relationship could be further strengthened. He also confirmed that the Italian defense industry is ready to provide all the necessary support for the renewal of the Hungarian Defence Forces.

To this end, possible developments and governmental agreements are being sought and explored. László Tömböl stressed that Hungary is particularly interested in deepening cooperation with Italy in the defense sector. The parties also identified concrete Italian defense products and technologies that could meet the relevant Hungarian needs: new Italian AW249 attack helicopters, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and counter-unmanned aerial systems (C-UAS).

Hungary is more than halfway through its 10-year armed forces equipment upgrade program Zrínyi 2026, and has already bought transport aircraft, utility helicopters, tanks, other light and medium armored vehicles, artillery, anti-aircraft, and man-portable weapons systems. However, the country is lacking in suitable attack helicopters for a modern military.

Hungary currently only has eight Soviet-made Mi-24 attack helicopters, but it is unclear how many of these are actually deployable. The Italian AW249 attack helicopter, under development since 2017, made its maiden flight last August and competes with similar U.S. models on the world market.

In a recent helicopter tender where the Italian AW249 was also among the possible choices, Poland shortlisted the AH-64 Apache and the Bell AH-1Z Viper (both U.S.-made).

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