Major Hungarian defence tasks this year include introducing a career model in the armed forces and continuing the modernisation of military hardware with a special focus on purchasing a new helicopter fleet, the defence minister said. Csaba Hende gave an outline of tasks for 2015 and assessed achievements in 2014 at an annual meeting with senior military officers in Budapest.
In connection with the planned procurement of a fleet of new helicopters, Hende noted that needs had been assessed and related calculations prepared with the involvement of affected state partners. The cost of purchasing the 30 aircraft has been estimated at 172 billion forints (EUR 551m), Hende said, adding that a decision on the actual purchase and committing the required amount now lay with the Hungarian government. Regarding the military career model, he said that wages are set to be increased by an average 30% from July this year, and by 5% each year over the next four years. This translates to an average increase of 50% by the end of the period, he said.
Outlining further tasks, Hende said the outstanding performance of the Hungarian armed forces in international missions must continue. He noted the new mission in Afghanistan, air patrol operations inthe Baltic States, as well as in NATO’s rapid response forces and the VisegradFour-EU military force. Given the primary importance of stability in the Balkans, Hende stated the Hungarian army’s readiness to perform additional duties, mainly in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Hungarian troops are currently serving in 12 countries on three continents and the mandates of most of those in Africa have been extended, Hende said. But the mission in the Sinai will come to a close in the spring, he added. Hende said Hungary’s defence budget has increased by 8.2 percent, or by 20 billion forints this year.
Meanwhile Colleen Bell, the new US ambassador to Hungary, has made an introductory visit to Defence Minister Csaba Hende, the ministry said. Parties at the talks reviewed Hungary’s defence priorities and plans, as well as opportunities to further develop defence cooperation between the two countries.Bell thanked Hungary for its participation in international missions and spoke highly of bilateral cooperation in defence, especially in the area of cooperation between special forces. She also stressed the importance of increasing defence spending, the statement said. Bell took up her post in Budapest last week.
via hungarymatters.hu photo: Lajos Soós – MTI