The T-72s greeted with style the first four Leopard 2A4 tanks of the 25th György Klapka Rifle Brigade of the Hungarian Armed Forces, which arrived at the unit as part of the Defense and Force Development Program. On July 24, Tibor Benkő, Minister of Defense, and Ferenc Korom, Commander-in-Chief of the Hungarian Armed Forces, also took part in the handover of state-of-the-art combat equipment.
The Defense and Armed Forces Development Program affects all types and units of the Hungarian Armed Forces. To strengthen the ground forces, the Ministry of Defense has leased twelve Leopard 2A4 tanks from the German manufacturer, the first four of which - now with Hungarian insignia - crossed the Hungarian border this week to start their service at their station, the 25th György Klapka Rifle Brigade in Tata.
At the official handover, T-72 tanks were also lined up in honor of their big brothers. At the event, Minister of Defense Tibor Benkő put it this way: “Tanks form an outstanding group of the ground forces, and it is time for them to start preparing with the technical means of the new millennium,” adding that "The Hungarian Armed Forces has now reached the level of equipment allowing them to join the 21st century." The minister thanked the German Krauss-Maffei Wegmann factory for being able to meet the delivery deadline despite the pandemic, and Austria for providing training for tank personnel.
The Minister praised the work of all those who had been keeping the T-72 tanks in order for forty years, and also pointed out that the handover of the first Leopards marks the beginning of a new era in the history of the Hungarian Armed Forces.
He emphasized that from September to the end of the year, the Hungarian Armed Forces will be enriched with two Leopard 2A4 tanks a month, but the real quantum leap-like development is expected in 2023, when the German manufacturer will start delivering state-of-the-art Leopard 2A7s.
In connection with the celebration of St. Christopher's Day, the Army Day of the Tata corps, the minister said that there could be no better and more beautiful opportunity for soldiers to celebrate than to take possession of the new technical equipment. “The Hungarian government is committed to having a strong, capable army in Hungary. We are committed to this Hungarian Army consisting of excellent, prepared, loyal soldiers. Let us appreciate these tools, be proud of them, find their calculations with them,” Minister of Defense Tibor Benkő concluded his speech.
Colonel-General Ferenc Korom, commander of the Hungarian Armed Forces, called the handover of the Leopards an epoch-making event. As he said, this is one of the most important milestones in the Defense and Force Development Program 2020 plan, as with the change of generations, state-of-the-art technology replaces the system of T-72s.
“Until the arrival of the Leopard 2A7s, these tanks will provide us with the transition. Their use is of decisive importance, as they enable the Hungarian Armed Forces to carry out their tasks even more efficiently and to an even higher standard,” said Colonel-General Korom.
He added that although there has been an example of such a large-scale development within the Hungarian Armed Forces for a very long time, the most modern technology is not worth much without well-trained soldiers, which is why they place great emphasis on training.
An agreement was signed with the Austrian Ministry of Defense during the summer, according to which Austrian trainers will prepare Hungarian tanks for the use of the new technology this year.
The ceremonial handover, which was also attended by Frank Haun, CEO of the KMW plant, ended with a spectacular presentation of the T-72s.