On 14 December, the first Leopard 2A7HU tanks were delivered to the Hungarian Defence Forces. At the handover ceremony, the Hungarian Minister of Defence, Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky, described the vehicles as the crown jewels of Hungarian military development.
The minister said that the acquisition of the tanks marks the beginning of a new era in the history of Hungarian military development and in the history of Hungary. The tanks, specially developed to meet Hungarian needs, were handed over to the Klapka György 1st Armoured Brigade of the Hungarian Defence Forces. However, the arrival of the tanks is not the end of a project, but a new chapter, he stressed. As Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky pointed out, ‘the bulk of the work is just beginning.’
He recalled that three years ago, in 2020, the twelve Leopard 2A4HU tracked vehicles arrived, which gave the soldiers the opportunity to get to know the German armoured technology, which is significantly different from the previous ones, and to prepare for the deployment, application and operation of these modern, new military equipment.
With regard to the new 2A7HU tanks, which are among the most modern tanks globally, the Defence Minister stressed that ‘they represent a whole new world, even compared to the A4s, and are more modern than those used by the German forces.’
In his speech, he pointed out that a total of 44 Leopards, five Wisent 2HU armoured vehicles and three Leguan 2HU bridge launchers will be delivered to Hungary by 2028. He added that these will complete the renewal of the armoured corps. During the ceremony, the symbolic keys of the three tracked combat vehicles (Leopard 2A7HU, Wisent 2HU, Leguan 2HU) were symbolically handed over.
The Minister also underlined that the threats Hungary faces in its environment are becoming more and more apparent. ‘For us, the security of the Hungarian people is the utmost priority, and this can only be achieved by a well prepared, well trained and well equipped Hungarian force,’ he underlined.
The event was also attended by Ralf Ketzel, CEO of KMW-Nexter Defense Systems, the German tank manufacturer, who highlighted that the Hungarian Defence Forces will indeed receive the most advanced combat vehicles. He added that the Leopard 2 family is the backbone of deterrence and the main battle tank of the 21st century European armies.
’To hand over the most advanced military technology to a renowned equestrian hussar nation is a real honour,’ Mr Ketzel remarked.
In addition to the procurement of the tanks, Hungary is also involved in the development of armoured vehicles. This was announced by the Defence Minister a day later, on 15 December. In cooperation with the Düsseldorf-based automotive and arms manufacturer Rheinmetall Hungarian engineers will participate in a tank development project in Zalaegerszeg.
‘Together with our German partner, we will develop and bring to the market a state-of-the-art, latest-generation tank under the name Panther,’ he said in a post on his Facebook page after the signing of the new contracts with Rheinmetall. He added that the project would bring serious advantages to Hungary, enabling the country to join developments which ‘are the privilege of serious and strong countries’.