“It is the Government’s decided goal to reinforce the Hungarian Defence Force, which guarantees Hungary’s security”, the Minister of Defence István Simicskó said at an event to mark the major refurbishment of the army’s fleet of Mi-17 transport helicopters.
At the event at the Lt. Ittebei Kiss József Helicopter Base, Mr. Simicskó said: “Hungary’s security rests on three pillars: the capabilities of the Hungarian Defence Force, the NATO alliance system, and the dedication and patriotic commitment of Hungarian citizens”.
The Minister said it was particularly important that serving military personal should be suitably appreciated, trained and prepared, adding that they must also be supplied with suitable equipment.
He recalled that a government decision had recently ordered the industrial overhaul of the army’s 4+1 Mi-17 medium transport helicopters. Following their refurbishment, the helicopters will be able to remain in commission for another eight years or two thousand flight hours, further reinforcing the Hungarian Defence Force’s helicopter capabilities.
The Minister pointed out that the Ministry of Defence had issued an open tender for the full refurbishment of the 4 transport helicopters, within the framework of which four tenders were submitted by four applicants and the tender was won by a Russian helicopter manufacturer, AO Vertoljoti Rossziji, who undertook to complete the order at a cost of 3.9 billion forints (EUR 12.7 M). The company has performed the industrial overhaul of the helicopters in a suitably professional manner, he stressed.
During the course of the overhaul the company refurbished the helicopters’ engines and airframes, and replaced the main and tail rotor blades, the electric wiring, the contactors and the hydraulics.
“The Zrinyi 2026 military development programme also includes the procurement of new helicopters, and the Hungarian Defence Force will be developed in phases as defence spending increases during the upcoming ten years”, Mr. Simicskó highlighted.
“The army’s existing fleet of helicopters and the helicopters scheduled for industrial refurbishment are capable of maintaining the Hungarian Defence Force’s helicopter capabilities and the maintenance of existing skills until the new modern helicopters are procured”, he added.
In reply to a question from Hungarian news agency MTI, the Minister said the reinforcement of the Hungarian Defence Force also results in the reinforcement of NATO’s alliance system. He also mentioned that there is no intention on the part of NATO to get rid of still useable technical equipment simply because they do not originate from NATO-allied countries.
“The full refurbishment is in full harmony with our commitment to fulfil our commitments to NATO”, he highlighted.
In reply to another question, Mr. Simicskó told the press: The ten-year Zrinyi 2026 Military Development Programme includes the maintenance and further development of all kinds of arms from air transport capabilities to even the reinforcement of artillery capabilities.
“There will be a short period during which the Mi-17s and the new equipment will be operating simultaneously. It will take several years for the new helicopters to arrive following the launching of the tender for their procurement”, he explained in reply to another question.
Commander of the army’s MH 86 Szolnok Helicopter Base Colonel József Koller told MTI: This is the third time that these helicopters have undergone a full industrial overhaul, while the fifth helicopter will be overhauled following September of this year.
At the event, the Minister of Defence congratulated the Hungarian Defence Force’s parachuting team, which finished in third place at last Thursday’s World Military Parachuting Championships in Germany, and Ensign Tamás Varga, who won the bronze medal in the individual category out of a field of 167 soldiers.