The government plans to carry out these investments in collaboration with international companies, namely by creating joint ventures in which the respective foreign companies have a 51% share and the Hungarian state has a 49% share. But let’s not rush too far ahead, because Hungary has a tradition of the military industry, even though these projects have often been derailed due to historical reasons. Weapons were also produced in our country during socialism, but during the regime change, together with the National Defense, domestic arms production also started to decline. At such a level that until 2010, the army was forced to use old Soviet equipment, although these equipment are still found in the units of the Honvédség today.
However, from 2010, the government started to support the development of the domestic military industry. This was the case, for example, with the MRAP vehicles developed by Gamma Zrt., which ultimately did not go into production in large numbers and only a few of them are still serving the military. Then came the Zrínyi 26 program, which shook the domestic military industry even more. Within the program, the government continued to think about supporting domestic developments, but at the same time, a more important change took place.
They realized that creating and launching a new brand is not an easy task, and in fact such a process takes a lot of time, so the decision was made to link larger military purchases with the establishment of factories of non-international companies. These are primarily German factories. In these factories, not only the assembly process would be carried out, but specific production, research and development phases should also be provided. The above-mentioned joint ventures were created to set up these plants. The main partner is the German Rheinmetall, as their name is closely associated with 4 out of 6 plants.
Well, let’s see where and what facilities will serve the needs of the Defense Forces:
- Zalaegerszeg – Lynx infantry fighting vehicle manufacturing plant: In Zalaegerszeg, Rheinmetall’s self-developed Lynx infantry fighting vehicles will be manufactured here, one of the most modern combat vehicles on the market. 172 Lynx are being produced for the order of the Hungarian Defense Forces. By the way, series production has already started at the county seat in Zala, with a capacity of 45 units per year planned, and in addition to satisfying domestic needs, the models produced here will also be intended for the international market.
- Kaposvár – Gidran 4X4 factory: In Kaposvár, Rheinmetall will start production by utilizing the existing capacity of the BM Heros factory, which produces fire hoses, and even by expanding it. Armored vehicles, more specifically Gidran 4X4s, will be manufactured at the plant under the license of Nurol Makina, one of Rheinmetall’s Turkish partner companies. In the beginning, the vehicles arriving from Turkey will be equipped with radio-technical and electro-technical devices, as well as equipped with weapons, and later on, the aim is to provide the entire assembly process. They expect an annual capacity of 100 units, thanks to which the plant will not only be able to fulfill the orders of the National Defense, but will also produce vehicles for export. It should be noted that thanks to a Turkish-Hungarian cooperation, military drones will also be produced in Kaposvár in the future.
- Várpalota – ammunition factory and mortar factory: Várpalota is in the privileged position of having two plants here. One of the factories will be the ammunition production plant of Rheinmetall, where ammunition will be produced for almost all domestic combat vehicles and tanks. The production of 30, 120 and 155 millimeter ammunition will also not only satisfy domestic needs, but will also be prepared for export. The other plant is connected to Hirtenberger Defense Systems, an Austrian company that became Hungarian-owned and specialized in the production of mine launchers. In addition to the Austrian plant, the production process will also start in the Várpalota facility, and development and research will be carried out here as well.
- I cut you – radar manufacturing plant: The factory in Nyírtelek has a long history, as it was the former site of the HM Arsenal and the maintenance of domestic air defense systems and old Soviet radar systems took place here at the same time. Now Rheinmetall is establishing a radar factory here, where, in cooperation with Carpatia Sat Zrt., the ELM-2084 radars of Rheinmetall Canada and the Israeli company IAI ELTA will be manufactured. The National Defense ordered 11 ELM-2084s, thereby modernizing its radar stock.
- Gyula – helicopter parts factory: On the list of six, this company is one of the cuckoo eggs, as it was not created specifically for military orders, but only for the production of individual components, and it does not even belong to Rheinmetall, but to Airbus. At the same time, it is connected to the procurement of military helicopters, as the military ordered Airbus H145-M light and H225-M medium multi-purpose helicopters for modernization. The light models will arrive in our country from Germany, while the medium models will come from France. So in Gyulán they will not be busy with the specific production of the models, but with the production of parts, which may also be needed for the maintenance of the newly equipped helicopters, and the parts of other models will also be produced in the lowland city. By the way, the plant is already producing, and expansion is even under negotiation.
- Kiskunféligháza – handgun production: The other cuckoo’s egg is the weapons factory under the umbrella of HM Arzenál Zrt. Serial production is already taking place here, machine guns, submachine guns and handguns, i.e. pistols, are produced here based on Czech licenses. These are not only regularized in the army, but also in other armed forces, such as the police. At the same time, the German thread in the background can be seen in action here as well. In addition to the Czech weapons, the Bavarian Unique Alpine AG-TPG-3 A4 sniper rifle is also produced here. Furthermore, in the future, some models of the Belgian FN Herstal will also be produced in the factory.
It is also important to mention the Aero Vodochody company, which is a Czech-Hungarian owned aircraft manufacturing company. What is interesting here is that the majority ownership of the basically Czech company is owned by the Hungarian state. Two and a half years ago, it was heard that the Vietnamese Ministry of Defense ordered 12 L-39NG aircraft models from the Czech-Hungarian company. In fact, this was the first serious international business of the restarting Hungarian military industry. According to the plans, the Hungarian Defense Forces also wants 12 units of the same model, which will be used for training and reconnaissance tasks.
Based on what has been said so far, it can be stated that the Hungarian martial arts industry is truly being reborn. At the same time, we must keep in mind the economic implications and consequences of these investments.
Since none of the military industrial plants have yet started production, there is no exact figure on what effect these will have on the economy, and the officials do not reveal what, how much it cost and what kind of income they expect from them
– said Dániel Huszák, Portfolio analyst.
According to the specialist, one can only shoot in the dark regarding these things, but according to him, it will take 10-15 years before it becomes clear how good or bad it is for the country that these developments have started.
There are two military factories in Hungary that operate: the ammunition factory of RUAG in Sirok and the small arms factory in Kiskunfélegyház, but since the latter is a state enterprise, there are no figures for this. More precisely, the combat vehicle factory in Zalaegerszeg also started operating, but nothing has been produced yet, so there are no figures for anything.
Dániel Huszák added.
“Based on the current world political situation, I can say that these factories will probably provide work for many thousands of Hungarians for many decades and bring income to the country”
– this is what Attila Demkó, head of the Mathias Corvinus Collegium’s Geopolitics Workshop, said in an interview with VG.hu.
He also emphasized that it is not simply a matter of plants manufacturing equipment for the Hungarian Armed Forces.
As they represent the highest level of technical standards available today, they can bring development in the entire field of industry and give a boost to the entire Hungarian economy
said the security policy expert.
In summary, until a few years ago, we could not even talk about the domestic defense industry, almost the only significant player was the ammunition factory in Sirok, which produces small-caliber small arms ammunition, which is now in the hands of Luxembourg-based Beretta. In fact, no firearms have been manufactured here since the end of FÉG, but this also seems to be changing. The development of a family of Hungarian handguns has also recently started, which the Hungarian Gestamen Zrt. is working on with great strength, as both the development and testing are in an advanced phase. Domestic weapon developments also required that vocational training be started for this branch as well. In Kecskemét, a weapons design engineer course was established at János Neumann University.
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