In his speech, Tamás Vargha pointed out that the anniversary is at once an occasion to celebrate the Hungarian Air Force and pay tribute to the service of Hungarian pilots, who have earned recognition and esteem for Hungary and the Hungarian Defence Forces through their task execution at home and on foreign missions.


Photo: Károly Árvai/

He reminded his audience that in the last four months, Hungary has simultaneously assumed responsibility for guarding the airspace of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania and performed air policing tasks in Slovenia.

He added that the readiness level of the Hungarian Air Force, its air-to-air refuelling capability, the use of night vision devices (NVDs) and the Close Air Support capability – which was acquired in 2015 and offered to the V4 EU Battle Group by the Visegrád Four countries – provide increasing security to tens of millions of European citizens.

“With this, Hungary has joined the ranks of those NATO member countries that are able to deploy their air forces beyond their borders”, the parliamentary state secretary stated, adding that the Baltic countries are expecting Hungary to assume a similar role for another four months in 2019 again.

Tamás Vargha also noted that since the arrival of the first five Gripen fighter aircraft in March 2006, the role of the Hungarian Air Force has significantly changed: thanks to the airmen’s preparedness, dedication and the state-of-the-art military equipment, it has become a respected organization in Hungarian society and the symbol of the unity of the nation again. In addition, the token of the future of the Kecskemét Air Base lies in the fact that the pilots here “serve not only with their knowledge but also with all their heart”, he said.

Speaking at the event, Base Commander Brig.-Gen. Csaba Ugrik pointed out that the JAS–39 Gripen fighter jets the Hungarian Defence Forces had purchased from Sweden are more than mere “pieces of iron”, as they come with the mentality that is necessary for their operation and has been indispensable for the success of Air Force missions over the last decade.

He emphasized that the Gripen fleet – together with the 35 pilots and 145 aircraft technicians trained to operate it – is suitable for conducting 21st century missions in all respects. He added that since 2006, these aircraft have already flown nearly 14,000 hours, participated in some 100 exercises and held flying displays during air shows in dozens of countries.

However, the dissolution of the Swedish support team – earlier a 16-strong one that has by now been reduced to two members – marks the end of an era, he said, adding that although it means that the Hungarian Gripen fleet and the Kecskemét Air Base “have come of age”, the manufacturer “will not let go of the hand of its Hungarian partners in the future.”

{Source: Government of Hungary – Ministry of Defence}

[photo credits-featured image:By Chris Lofting [GFDL 1.2 ( or GFDL 1.2 (], via Wikimedia Commons]

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