COLOGNE, Germany — Rheinmetall announced it has found the first-ever taker for its new Lynx infantry fighting vehicle, with Hungary buying 218 copies for more than $2 billion.

Company executives celebrated the order as a key deal for the company, following an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Army’s Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle replacement program last year.

“The Lynx’s market breakthrough is a major success for us,” Rheinmetall CEO Armin Papperger said in a statement. “And the fact that we were able to convince Hungary — an important EU and NATO partner — to choose this innovative vehicle makes this success all the greater.”

Hungary has been on a military shopping spree recently, with billions of dollars spent on American missile-defense weaponry and German Leopard 2 tanks in the most modern configuration.

At the same time, the government of Prime Minister Victor Orban is at odds with much of the European Union over its curbing of press freedoms and sidelining parliamentary oversight under the pretext of a state of emergency in response to the spread of COVID-19.

Rheinmetall’s €2 billion (U.S. $2.4 billion) contract with the Hungarian government, signed in Budapest, is for 218 Lynx KF41 vehicles, nine Buffalo armored recovery vehicles, as well as spares and simulators, the company wrote in a statement. The Lynx vehicles will be equipped with Rheinmetall’s manned Lance 30mm turret.

Production is slated for two phases, with the first 46 Lynx copies and the nine Buffalos to be built in Germany and delivered by early 2023. A second batch of 172 Lynx vehicles will then roll off a future production line in Hungary, for which the company established a joint venture with the Hungarian government last month.

Rheinmetall’s newest vehicle is also in the running in the Czech Republic as well as Australia, where the company has something of a lock on much of the land modernization program.

Sebastian Sprenger is Europe editor for Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, and on U.S.-Europe cooperation and multinational investments in defense and global security. He previously served as managing editor for Defense News.

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