Hungary is acquiring Mi-8 transport helicopters as part of an effort to improve its airlift capabilities. Here, a Croatian Mi-8 participates in a NATO exercise. (NATO)
WARSAW — The Hungarian Ministry of Defense has acquired three Mil Mi-8 transport helicopters produced by Russia’s state-run Rosoboronprom and imported by a Hungarian defense firm.
Meanwhile, the country’s armed forces are planning to purchase new helos and transport aircraft under a 105 billion forint (US $470 million) modernization program, of which 100 billion forints are to be spent on helicopters and 5 billion forints on planes.
Last year, Defense Minister Csaba Hende said Hungary was planning to significantly strengthen its airlift capability by 2016.
The Mi-8 purchase is estimated to be worth about 2 billion forints, reported local daily Magyar Nemzet. The helos were transported to the Kecskemét air base onboard an Antonov An-124 plane.
The Hungarian government has postponed the launch of the aircraft acquisition program due to the April 6 parliamentary elections. With the ruling Fidesz Party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban securing a comfortable majority in the vote, the country’s Defense Ministry is expected to go ahead with the much-awaited program.
In 2013, Hungary had a defense budget of 241.37 billion forints. ■