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Hungary, Netherlands Hold Joint Military Exercise As Hungarian Gripens Return From Baltics

By Tamás Székely // 2016.01.12.

An international military exercise dubbed Várpalota Challenge 2016 started in western Hungary on Monday and will run for over a month, the Hungarian defence ministry said. The exercise, commanded by Dutch officers and ending on February 21, will give Hungarian troops an opportunity to practise tasks that are part of international support for NATO forces.

The exercise is meant to strengthen Dutch-Hungarian military links within NATO, it said. Hungarian troops took over the mission of a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Baghlan, Afghanistan from the Netherlands in October 2006. Soldiers from the two countries have served together in numerous NATO and EU missions, including in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Somalia. Holland is one of 12 countries that established the Heavy Airlift Wing at the Pápa Air Base in western Hungary.

Meanwhile more than eighty Hungarian soldiers and four JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets of Hungary’s air force have returned after successfully completing a Baltic air policing mission. The Hungarian contingent handed over the task to Spanish soldiers at 9am last Friday, local time, the defence ministry said. “The Hungarian soldiers have not only fulfilled their duties but their high level of preparedness gained praise from commanders and from NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre in Germany,” Defence Minister István Simicskó said.

The Hungarian mission patrolled the airspace over the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for four months starting in September 2015. Hungary fulfilled the mission in conjunction with Germany. During the four months, Hungarian pilots spent more than 430 hours in the air, they were alerted 25 times and received an additional 101 test alerts. “By fulfilling the tasks of the air policing mission, Hungary has joined those NATO member states that are capable of deploying their air force beyond the borders of the country,” he said, adding that in 2019 Hungary will again police Baltic airspace for four months.

via and MTI