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DEFMIN: 'THIS YEAR IS ABOUT THE AIR FORCE'

 

Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky, the defence minister, said on Friday that 2024 would be all about the Hungarian air force. Addressing an international conference focusing on Europe’s security and defence in Fehérvárcsurgó, south of Budapest, Szalay-Bobrovniczky said that with the expansion of the army’s fleet of 14 Gripen fighter jets with another four, Hungarians would become “masters” of the craft, given their associated training and maintenance capabilities. In addition, Hungary will take delivery of two transport aircraft supplied by Brazil, as well as training and reconnaissance planes manufactured in Czechia. The purchase of loitering, kamikaze and reconnaissance drones is also on the agenda, he said. “Besides purchases that meet the needs of the Hungarian armed forces, we are also thinking in terms of placing emphasis on developing our defence industry with a view to preparing it for the export markets,” the minister said, noting the manufacturing of Lynx armoured infantry fighting vehicles in Zalaegerszeg and the construction of an ammunition plant in Várpalota. He highlighted “cultural change” in the Hungarian armed forces, the essence of which was to have professional units capable of operating cutting-edge equipment at bases round the country. Szalay-Bobrovniczky said the two main focus areas of Hungary’s upcoming EU presidency in the second half of this year will be strengthening the bloc’s own defence capabilities and enhancing its defence industry capacities.