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Hungarian Air Force
Magyar Légierő
Emblem of the Hungarian Air Force
Founded1918; 103 years ago (1918)
Country Hungary
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Size5,750 active duty personnel
42 aircraft [1]
Part ofHungarian Defence Forces
HeadquartersBudapest
Anniversaries15 August
Commanders
Current
commander
Major General Nándor Kilián
Insignia
Roundel

Aircraft flown
FighterJAS 39 Gripen
HelicopterAirbus H125, Airbus H145M
Attack helicopterMil Mi-24
TrainerZlin 242
TransportAirbus A319, Dassault Falcon 7X

The Hungarian Air Force (Hungarian: Magyar Légierő) is the air force branch of the Hungarian Defence Forces.[2]

The task of the current Hungarian Air Force is primarily defensive purposes. The flying units of the air force are organised into a single command; under the Air Command and Control Centre.[3]

History

1918 to Pre–World War II

Following the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in 1918, a small air arm was established operating surviving aircraft from Hungarian factories and training schools. This air arm became the Hungarian Red Air Force under the short lived Hungarian Soviet Republic, but was disbanded upon its downfall.[4]

World War II

Under the Treaty of Trianon (1920), Hungary was forbidden from owning military aircraft. However, a secret air arm was gradually established under the cover of civilian flying clubs. During 1938, as a result of the Bled agreement, the existence of the Royal Hungarian Air Force (Hungarian: Magyar Királyi Honvéd Légierő (MKHL)),[citation needed] was made known. The army's aviation service was reorganized and expanded.

Late 1938 the army aviation was once again reorganized. Admiral Horthy, the head of state, ordered that the army aviation should become an independent service effective 9 January 1939. Colonel Ferenc Feketehalmi Czeydner became the Air Section Chief in the Honvéd Ministry; Major General Waldemar Kenese became Inspector of the Air Force; Colonel Ferenc Szentnémedy became Chief-of-Staff, and Colonel László Háry was appointed head of the Magyar Királyi Honvéd Légierő (MKHL).

It subsequently participated in clashes with the newly established Slovak Republic and in the border confrontation with the Kingdom of Romania. In April 1941, operations were conducted in support of the German invasion of Yugoslavia and, on 27 June 1941, Hungary declared war on the Soviet Union.

In 1940, the decision was made to unite the Air Force, the anti-aircraft forces, and the civilian air defense organizations under one central headquarters.[citation needed] Colonel László Háry was retired 24 December 1940, and on 1 March 1941 the new organization was constituted. General András Littay became Air Sub-Department Chief, and Colonel Géza Vörös was appointed Head of the Air General Staff. On 1 June 1941, the Air Defense Corps was established, and Lieutenant General Béla Rákosi[5] became Commander of Army Aviation. In effect the Air Force had once again become part of the Army.

A Royal Hungarian Air Force Junker Ju-86 1942
A Royal Hungarian Air Force Junker Ju-86 1942

In the summer of 1942, an air brigade was attached to the Luftwaffe's VIII. Fliegerkorps on the Eastern Front. Beginning March 1944, Allied bomber raids began on Hungary and progressively increased in intensity. The 101st "Puma" fighter group (later wing) was the elite unit of the MKHL (its name and insignia are carried on by the "Puma" fighter squadron of the Hungarian Air Force of today). Late in 1944 all efforts were redirected towards countering the advancing Red Army, but to no avail. All fighting in Hungary ended on 16 April 1945.[4]

Post–World War II to Present

A small air arm was organised along Soviet lines during 1947. Following the communist takeover, Russian military aid was stepped up and a major expansion program initiated. By 1956 the Hungarian Air Force consisted of the 25th Fighter Division (25. Vadászrepülő Hadosztály, HQ in Taszár), the 66th Fighter Division (66. Vadaszrepülő Hadosztály, HQ in Kecskemét),[6] the 82nd Separate Bomber Division (82. Önálló Bombázó Hadosztály, HQ in Kunmadaras),[7] the 28th Ground Attack Division (28. Csatarepülő Hadosztály, HQ in Székesfehérvár) and a training air division.[8] When Soviet forces invaded to suppress the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, sections of the Hungarian Air Force attacked Soviet forces and resisted Russian attempts to occupy their bases. The resistance was short-lived and the entire Hungarian air force was demobilized soon after. A reconstituted air arm was reformed in the following year as part of the Hungarian People's Army, but initially only as an internal security force. The remaining Hungarian air force assets were organised in the Aircraft Training Center (Repülő Kiképző Központ (RKK)) on April 1, 1957, with one mixed aircraft types squadron each at the main fighter air bases at Pápa, Taszár and Kecskemét. Gradually, starting in 1959 as Hungary became stable, the air force was expanded again, but it remained an integral part of the army and was essentially a defensive force.

During the Cold War period communist Hungary had numerous SA-2, SA-3 and also SA-5 (one unit) batteries and a large number of radar installations, mostly tasked with defending the Danube line against NATO air strikes. Army air defense was equipped with the SA-4, SA-6 Kub and SA-9, SA-13 systems besides conventional AAA units.

A Hungarian MiG-29 over RIAT 2008
A Hungarian MiG-29 over RIAT 2008

The Hungarian People's Army Air Force operated the Il-28, MiG-15, MiG-17, MiG-19, MiG-21, MiG-23 and Su-22 jet combat aircraft during its existence. In the 1980s it had three fighter regiments (wings) at the three main bases with three squadrons each, with a total of approximately 100 active supersonic fighter aircraft. From 1989 the force was downsized several times until the early 2000s when only one active fighter squadron was remaining with often only 2-4 flyable alert ready aircraft at a given time.

In mid-1993, three batches of 28 MiG-29s were delivered from Russia as a payment in kind of government debt. They were based at Kecskemét. In 1995, a German gift of 20 Mi-24D/V's arrived.

For most other former Warsaw Pact member countries, pilot training was not a big deal. Each nation maintained an independent aviation technical college, academy for training military aircraft pilots and technical personnel. After the Second World War, Hungary created György Kilián Aviation Technical College in 1949, but in the 1960s domestic pilot training was discontinued and the 18 then modern Aero L-29 Delfin jet trainers were handed over to the Soviet Union. The training of pilots was conducted in several schools and bases in the USSR in the following years, and also in Czechoslovakia, in Košice. In Hungary, only helicopter pilots and technicians were trained at Szolnok.

In 1993, Hungary commenced its first pilot training course since 1956 at the Szolnok Aviation Academy. For this, 12 Yak-52 primary trainers were purchased from Romania. The German Government also donated 24 Aero L-39 Albatros jet trainers. The cost of domestic pilot training was later deemed too high after change of government, and was halted after the completion of only one course. Also in 1997 the MIG-23s and Su-22s were withdrawn from service, the later type was retired just after an overhaul. During the 1990s all combat aircraft were fitted with new Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) systems to enable operations in Western airspace. In April 2002, Hungary joined the NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) pilot training program.[4]

Shortly after Hungary joined NATO in 1999, a push was made to replace the Air Force's MiG-29 fleet with a NATO-compatible fighter force. By 2001, several offers had been received, a Swedish offer with 24 JAS39C/D, the USA offered 24 used F-16's and multiple other offers had been received for the commissioning of various used aircraft. Despite the fact that the professional committees favored the F-16, on September 10, 2001 the Swedish bid won,[9] and on December 20 Hungary signed a contract with the Swedish Government.[10] The contract included leasing 14 JAS 39 Gripens, two of which are two-seaters, for 12 years beginning in 2006 (later extended until 2026). By December 2007 all the 14 jets had been delivered.[11] After the lease period expires, Hungary will own the remaining Gripens.

In June 2020, Antonov An-26 fleet was retired from service. The decision to retire the aircraft was criticized as reason to procure new transport aircraft.[12]

Structure

Hungarian Air Force locations 2018:
JAS-39C/D Gripen
Helicopters
other flying units
Air Defense Missile unit
Command & Control Centre
RAT-31DL radar
other sites

The following units are part of the Hungarian Air Force, but like all other operational units of the Hungarian Defense Forces they fall under operational control of the Hungarian Defense Forces Command in Székesfehérvár

The Hungarian Air Force Aircraft Repair Facility at Kecskemét Air Base falls under the Hungarian Defense Forces Logistics Center in Budapest.

59th Air Base "Dezső Szentgyörgyi"

A JAS39C over RIAT
A JAS39C over RIAT

The 59th Air Base is the home to fixed-winged aircraft of the Air Force. The 59th consists of one tactical fighter squadron and one airlift squadron.[13]

The airlift squadron, nicknamed "Teve" operates the air force's transport aircraft,[13] while the Fighter Squadron is nicknamed "Puma" and operates JAS-39C/D Gripen fighters.[14] On 19 May 2015 one two-seater Saab JAS39D Gripen crashed at the end of the runway at the Čáslav AFB. The pilots ejected safely, but the aircraft, nr. 42 with callsign PUMA66 was written off, damaged beyond repair.[15] A replacement Gripen D was delivered from Sweden in 2016.[16] On 10 June 2015, a single-seater JAS 39C, nr. 30, performed a belly landing at Kecskemét Air Base, Hungary. The pilot, Major Sándor Kádár, ejected successfully, but suffered spinal injuries.[17]

86th Helicopter Base "Szolnok"

The 86th Base is the home of the air force's helicopters. The 86th consists of one transport and one attack helicopter battalion and the base also houses a mixed training company.[18]

12th Air Defense Missile Regiment

The 12th Air Defense Missile Regiment is in charge of providing air defense to Hungary and fields:

On 11 November 2020, the Hungarian Government announced that it purchased the NASAMS medium to long range air-defence system. It is scheduled to arrive in 2023.[20]

Pápa AFB

Pápa Air Force Base was established as a military organization on 1 July 2001 as a part of Hungary's commitments to NATO's Infrastructural Development Program, and it is the legal successor of the HDF 47th Pápa Tactical Fighter Regiment.

Current inventory

A JAS39C fly by
A JAS39C fly by
A Hungarian Mi-24 in flight
A Hungarian Mi-24 in flight
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat aircraft
JAS 39 Gripen Sweden multirole JAS 39C 12[21]
Transport
Airbus A319 Germany VIP transport 2[21]
Dassault Falcon 7X France VIP transport 2[22]
Embraer C-390 Brazil transport / aerial refueling 2 on order[21]
Helicopter
Mil Mi-24 Russia attack Mi-24 V/P 8[21]
Airbus H145M France / Germany utility 18 2 on order[21]
Airbus H225M France / Germany transport 16 on order[21]
Trainer aircraft
Zlín Z 42 Czech Republic basic trainer 242 2[21]
Zlín Z 43 Czech Republic basic trainer 143 2[21]
JAS 39 Gripen Sweden conversion trainer JAS 39D 2[21]
Eurocopter AS350 France rotorcraft trainer 2[21]

NOTE: Three C-17 Globemaster III’s are stationed at Pápa Air Base in Hungary to support NATO’s Strategic Airlift Capability operations.[23]

Air Defense

Name Origin Type In service Notes
SAM system
NASAMS USA SAM system Kongsberg Defence Systems and Raytheon were awarded a 410 million euro contract to deliver the NASAMS system to the Hungarian Defence forces.[24]

The exact amount of batteries and other equipment is not yet known.

2K12 Kub 2M Soviet Union SAM system 16[25] It is scheduled to be replaced by the new NASAMS system.[26]
Mistral France SAM system 185[27] Mistral 3 + Safran Matis[28][29]
EL/M-2084 Israel Multi-mission radar (MMR) 5+6[30] The Hungarian government have ordered multiple ELM-2084 radar systems from Israel Aerospace Industries with Rheinmetall's Canadian subsidiary to start replacing Soviet-made but modernized P-37, PRV-17 and ST-68U locators from 2022. Rheinmetall Canada is also establishing assembly and future manufacturing site in Nyírtelek.[31][30]
P–18 Spoon Rest Soviet Union 2D VHF Radar Upgraded and modernized by the HM Arzenál zrt.[32]
Oerlikon Skyranger 35mm Germany Anti-aircraft defense 0 Hungary is looking to buy Lynx-based systems equipped with 35 millimeter turrets. The package will also include searching and tracking radars. [33]

Aircraft markings

The Hungarian aircraft marking is a set of aligned triangles which points toward the front of the aircraft. They are the same colour as the Hungarian flag, red, white, and green. The innermost triangle is green, follow by white, and then red. It is displayed on the side of helicopters and in the standard four wing positions on aircraft. It was used by the Royal Hungarian Air Force until 1942, and then reinstated after the Second World War. The new Gripen fighters wear a NATO standard compliant grey-on-grey (low-visibility) version of the Hungarian triangle insignia.

Ranks and insignia

Main article: Military ranks of Hungary

References

  1. ^ "World Air Forces 2019". Flightglobal Insight. 2019. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  2. ^ "The Military Balance: Vol 117, No 1". Tandfonline.com.
  3. ^ "Scramble". Scramblemagazine.nl. Archived from the original on 9 December 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  4. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 February 2006. Retrieved 17 February 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Biography of Lieutenant-General Béla Rákosi (1889 – 1968), Hungary". Generals.dk. Archived from the original on 21 January 2014. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  6. ^ "Történelmi Áttekintés". www.mh59.hu. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  7. ^ legiero_admin (27 May 2018). ""Majdnem-bombázók" Magyarország egén: az Il-28 hazai alkalmazása". az elfeledett légierő (in Hungarian). Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  8. ^ "A néphadsereg visszafejlesztése (1953–1956)". vmek.niif.hu. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  9. ^ "Hungary Chooses JAS Gripen". www.defense-aerospace.com. Retrieved 9 January 2021.
  10. ^ Tamas, Kern (2009). "Project Gripen: a failed procurement" (PDF). Szenzor Nonprofit. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  11. ^ "Hungarian Gripens get CAS role". AIRheads↑FLY. Archived from the original on 12 November 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  12. ^ "Madarska umirovila transportni AN-26". obris.org (in Hungarian). 12 June 2020. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  13. ^ a b "59th Air Base". honvedelem.hu. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  14. ^ "Hungarian Gripens police Slovenia". AIRheads↑FLY. Archived from the original on 24 December 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  15. ^ Ranter, Harro. "Saab JAS 39D Gripen 42 Accident, 19 May 2015". Aviation-safety.net. Archived from the original on 23 May 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  16. ^ "Replacement Gripen arrives in Kecskemét". dailynewshungary. 1 July 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  17. ^ "HunAF: Another gripen incident". JetFly. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  18. ^ "86th Szolnok Helicopter Base". Honvedelem.hu. 2020. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  19. ^ "86th Szolnok Helicopter Base's new Helicopters". Honvedelem.hu. 2020. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  20. ^ "Hungary to buy air defence missiles from Kongsberg and Raytheon". Reuters. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "World Air Forces 2021". Flightglobal Insight. 2021. Retrieved 4 May 2021.
  22. ^ [1]
  23. ^ "Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC)". Nato.int. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
  24. ^ "HUNGARY SELECTS KONGSBERG AND RAYTHEON MISSILES & DEFENSE FOR MEDIUM RANGE AIR DEFENSE". 30 November 2020.
  25. ^ "UNROCA original report Hungary 2017". unroca.org.
  26. ^ "Hungary to purchase air defense systems from US, Norway". apnews.com. 20 November 2020.
  27. ^ "UNROCA original report Hungary 2017". unroca.org.
  28. ^ IISS 2019, p. 117.
  29. ^ "MISTRAL in Service of 12th Air-defense Missile Regiment". 27 November 2012.
  30. ^ a b "A military plant is established in Nyírtelek". portfolio.hu (in Hungarian). 6 February 2021. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  31. ^ "A legkorszerűbb radarrendszert szerzi be a Magyar Honvédség". honvedelem.hu (in Hungarian). 11 December 2020. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  32. ^ "HMARZENÁL ZRT". 25 January 2009. Archived from the original on 25 January 2009. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  33. ^ ""Hungary to purchase German Oerlikon air defense systems". 23 March 2021.

Bibliography

Further reading