In December 2019 it was revealed that the Ministry of Defence will have a record high defence budget of 616 billion forints in 2020, so the Hungarian Armed Forces had been expected to have a very busy year ahead, carrying out large scale procurements, but reality exceeded all expectations. Within the framework of the Zrínyi 2026 defence and military development program, unprecedented investment projects and technical developments have been realized. The purchases included infantry fighting vehicles (IFV), cargo aircraft, a new air defence missile system, and even the well-known Israeli Iron Dome radar system was on the list.
Lynx is coming to Hungary
After a relatively uneventful spring and summer, the news broke in August that the Hungarian Armed Forces would get Rheinmetall Lynx infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) within a nearly seven hundred billion forint program. This crawler is one of the best in its category: it has a modular design and can be assembled to be used for transport or command, reconnaissance or repair, or even ambulance services, in just eight hours without the use of any factory equipment. Its hardware and electronic system are also modular, making it easier to replace damaged subsystems; and the possibilities for future development are almost endless; it can be equipped, for example, with various air defence devices or mortars.
One of the most modern military plants in the world is being built in Zala
The Lynx deal with German military giant Rheinmetall has become really interesting because the parties have also agreed to set up a joint venture, and a significant part of the production will take place in Hungary, in a plant to be built in Zalaegerszeg as a German-Hungarian investment for the production of armoured combat vehicles. There has been no such major military plant development in Hungary since World War II. The modernization program worth more than two billion euros will provide the Hungarian Armed Forces with 218 Lynx KF41 combat vehicles, 172 of which will be manufactured in Hungary. The plant will be suitable not only for the assembly of Lynxes, it will also be at the forefront of artificial intelligence, digitization and robotics.
New generation RPG’s and reactive armour components to be manufactured in Kiskunfélegyháza
In October, Michael Humbek, Managing Director of German Dynamit Nobel Defence (DND) and Gáspár Maróth, Government Commissioner for Defence Development, signed a letter of intent to set up a joint venture for military manufacturing and product development.
The German company has been dealing with explosives for more than a hundred years, and it is well-known for making products such as the Panzerfaust 3 or the RGW 60-110 series.
within the weapon factory of Arzenál Zrt, which will deal with both production and development. In the first two years the manufacturing of reactive armour (ERA) to increase the protection of various combat vehicles will begin, and at the same time the production of components for shoulder-launched anti-tank weapons (RGW) will be started. According to the plan, a fully Hungarian-made product version will be created within five years.
Manufacture of high-end sniper rifles
The production of Unique Alpine AG's sniper and hunting rifles can start in Kiskunfélegyháza in a similar way to the RPG deal. The background is provided by a cooperation agreement with another German arms manufacturer. The originally French-owned but now Bavarian company manufactures iconic sniper rifles and will transfer not only its production facilities to Kiskunfélegyháza but also its research and development units. The weapons manufactured here will be partly bought by the Hungarian armed forces, but hopefully they will also sell well on the international market. The Unique Alpine TPG-3 sniper rifle was originally developed by the German company for the special forces of the United States, and the HM Arzenál Zrt plant will manufacture NX, which is its newest version. The special feature of this rifle is that it can be used with several calibres and types of ammunition, and it is enough to change the barrel, the lock head and the magazine to switch ammunition.
Brand new aerial workhorses
After lengthy preparations, the military transport aircraft procurement within the Zrínyi 2026 military development program was completed in November, when the contract for the purchase of two Brazilian-made KC-390 Millennium multifunction aerial refuelling transport aircraft was signed in Budapest. These versatile carriers have a rear ramp, which facilitates parachute jumps and allows airdropping cargo pallets equipped with a parachute. The 185-meter-long, 3.45-meter-wide and 2.95-meter-high cargo hold of this impressive aircraft is not only suitable for carrying cargo, but it can be easily and quickly converted for other missions, such as medevac missions, i.e. evacuating injured soldiers from the battlefield. Up to 74 stretchers can be fixed in the cargo hold, and an 8-strong medical team can travel with the wounded. At the same time, they are capable of refuelling Gripens in the air via flexible hoses from refill containers installed under the wings, while also being able to refuel itself in-flight.
From time to time news broke about the Hungarian Armed Forces replacing the Soviet 2K12 KUBs used since the 1970s with the NASAMS system developed by the United States and Norway.
The official announcement was made on 19 November; under the agreement presumably the latest and most modern version of the weapon family, NASAMS 3 will be purchased.
The control and launch system of NASAMS is manufactured by Kongsberg Defence & Aerispace, and the AIM-120 AMRAAM medium-range anti-aircraft missiles and the AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel 3D mobile X-band radar system are supplied by American Raytheon. NASAMS is expected to be able to protect a significantly larger area and will also be capable of addressing drone attacks, which is becoming increasingly important today.
Hungary bought the Iron Dome radar system
The Hungarian Armed Forces will buy ELM-2084 airspace surveillance, air defence and artillery reconnaissance radars, as reported in early December.
Equipment with active phase-controlled (AESA) radar technology from the Israeli company IAI ELTA will replace the Soviet P-37, PRV-17 and SZT-68U radars, which have been used for decades, as planned from 2022.
The ELM-2084 radar system was developed at Elta with the support of the Israeli Ministry of Defence's Research and Development Directorate to signal missiles launched from the Gaza Strip, but it can also detect low-flying aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles and artillery shells.
21st century training
The Hungarian Armed Forces is also interested in the updated SAAB BT46 training system, it was revealed on 10 December, when representatives of the Swedish manufacturer presented the company’s state-of-the-art simulation system in Tata.
The BT46 enables soldiers to conduct artillery exercises in the field, in a real combat environment, even with multiple weapons. The digital training system significantly reduces the cost of military exercises, and this versatile simulator can be used to equip Leopard tanks, as well.
Ammunition and explosives factory in Várpalota
The cornerstone of the Lynx factory was laid in Zalaegerszeg on December 17, and it was also announced there that another military plant would be built in Várpalota for the production of explosives and large-calibre military ammunition and minesweepers. The plant will manufacture 30-millimetre ammunition used by Lynx, 120-millimetre ammunition used by Leopard tanks and 155-millimetre ammunition used by Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled carts, thus providing ammunition for all three currently standardized combat vehicles. Besides that, the plant will produce RDX explosives, and there are plans to relocate projects of the Austrian mortar and artillery ammunition manufacturer Hirtenberger Defence Systems, bought by the Hungarian state last year, toVárpalota, as well.
More than three hundred 4x4 military vehicles
The development, production and standardization of a new type of 4x4 military vehicle will start in Hungary, Government Commissioner Gáspár Maróth announced a few days before Christmas.
The large-scale project will provide the military with more than three hundred new vehicles, but as we have seen in other projects earlier, this is not a traditional purchase either. The vehicles are based on the military transport vehicle Gidrán, from the Ejder/Yalcin family of armoured vehicles manufactured by the Turkish company Nurol Makina. Ten vehicles have already been delivered to the Hungarian military.
From these vehicles, a next-generation armoured multi-purpose military vehicle family will be developed in Hungary in cooperation with engineers from Rheinmetall. Both development and production will take place in Kaposvár.