Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán held talks in his office with Armin Papperger, CEO of German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall, on 2 February 2, the PM’s press chief Bertalan Havasi said. A cooperation agreement on the joint development and manufacturing was signed.
Hungarian PM Orbán and Papperger agreed that in times of strife and amidst the war in Ukraine, the decision to launch Hungary’s defence industry development programme had proved a good one. The prime minister said that defending Hungary was ‘our most important goal’, adding that the development programme must not slow down ‘despite the crisis caused by the European sanctions’. Cooperation between Rheinmetall and the Hungarian state will continue uninterrupted, he added.
In this spirit to further strengthen Hungary’s strategic partnership with the Düsseldorf-based company, the sides signed a cooperation agreement on the joint development and manufacture of short-range air defence missile systems, turret guns and special medium-calibre grenades.
Hungarian Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky also attended the talks along with Minister of Innovation and Technology László Palkovics and government commissioner Gáspár Maróth. Rheinmetall Hungary’s regional strategy was on the agenda as well, and the officials agreed that joint investments already underway, including a Lynx plant in Zalaegerszeg, has greatly contributed to Hungary’s economic development and job creation. These projects not only boost Hungary’s sovereignty but also enhance European defence capabilities and its strategic autonomy, the PM’s press chief said.
In 2016, the Hungarian government announced the Zrínyi 2026 Defence and Force Development Programme with the promise of realising the long-awaited and well-needed modernisation and reformation of the Hungarian Defence Forces. An important goal of the Hungarian defence development is not just to import new technologies, but to create new national manufacturing capacities as well.
Arguably one of the most significant developments in the HDF’s military technology in recent years—with which HDF has regained a lost capability— is the Lynx KF41 infantry fighting vehicle.
According to the Hungarian Ministry of Defence, the Hungarian military will receive 46 of the Lynx combat vehicles produced by Rheinmetall AG by 2023, and a further 172 by 2029, to be manufactured in Zalaegerszeg, Hungary.
Rheinmetall Hungary’s production facility was inaugurated in the summer of 2022 and serial production of the combat vehicles is expected to start this year. The plant will be able to produce 45 Lynxes per year and may later is also expected to produce new types of military vehicles and civilian equipment. The production is important because it contributed to Hungary becoming self-sufficient and partly to provide some return on investment through export capacity. Hungary is the first country in the world to put the Lynx IFV into service and the first to start series production.
The first Lynxes were presented on 15 October 2022 at the swearing-in ceremony for volunteer soldiers in the Petőfi Sándor Barracks in Budapest, where more than 250 young people took the oath of enlistment. After the event, Rheinmetall CEO Armin Papperger, who was also present, underlined the Hungarian government’s commitment to carrying out force development and said of the newly sworn-in soldiers that he saw in them dedication and readiness to defend their country, Europe and NATO. And to do that, the Hungarian Defence Forces have now been given the best protection, real state-of-the-art technology, he concluded.