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Army development progresses as scheduled

The development of the Hungarian Armed Forces progresses in line with schedule, the defence minister told parliament's national security committee.

In a regular annual hearing, Tibor Benko said that the Hungarian army should become a significant power for the region to guarantee peace, security and stability in central Europe. This requires technical developments carried out in line with a detailed defence and army development programme, he added.

The programme dubbed Zrinyi 2026 was launched in 2017 and repeatedly updated since then to address new challenges, he said, adding that planning is already under way with an outlook for 2030-2032.

Benko said that 67 secondary schools had joined a defence training scheme and 8-10 secondary schools are planned to be set up for military training in the next ten years.

The minister presented in detail the completed and planned elements of the army development programme. He cited as an example the arrival of the first Airbus H145M military helicopters in 2019 and noted that out of 20 such helicopters ordered by the army, 16 will have arrived by the end of this year. He also said that Airbus A319 transport aircraft have been set up in a way to make them suitable also for rescue operations.

Commenting on arms manufacturing capacities in Hungary, he said that more than 14,000 small arms assembled in Kiskunfelegyhaza in southern Hungary were delivered to soldiers last year.

The minister said that he had signed a letter of intent and Ferenc Korom, the commander of the Hungarian Army, a contract on missile purchases. The contract envisages the purchase of 120 missiles in the first phase, and possibly another 60 later.

Benko said that the security environment had deteriorated, with great challenges posed by certain unstable countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. This is also assumed to be the cause of illegal migration and numerous examples have demonstrated that these developments pose a threat to western civilisation, he added.

Hungary has been effectively handling illegal migration since 2015, Benko said. The Hungarian army has been involved in guarding the borders in line with demands expressed by the ministry of the interior since the introduction of laws on border protection, he added. This remained a priority task last year, with 11,000 soldiers participating in border protection and control, he said.

Benko said that in line with NATO and Hungarian projections, security and defence threats have been established from the east and south. Deterrence is important in handling threats from the east, in protection against Russia, but dialogue must also continue, he said.

Threats from the south also pose complex challenges to NATO members, including Hungary, he added.

Central Europe and Hungary are at the crossroads of threats from the east and south, he said. This has been the reason for a decision to set up a multinational central European command based in Szekesfehervar, he added.

The establishment of a Special Operations Component Command (SOCC) in Szolnok to maintain security and stability for the region was one of the most successful multinational cooperation projects last year, he said.

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