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Hungarian Air Force (HuAF) (Magyar Legiero, ML)

Hungary no longer has a separate Air Force, but rather has a variety of air force units that each report directly to the Joint Forces Command. Effective as of 1 January 2007, the Joint Forces Command, HDF (HDF JFC) was established, as the legal successor of the Land Force Command and the Air Force Command, which were abolished.

The flying units form one of two commands in the Hungarian defence forces, or Magyar Honvedseg Repülö Csapatai (MHRC). The other is the Ground Troop Command, with headquarters at Szekesfehervar, which controls the helicopter and transport regiments at Szentkiralyszabadja, Szolnok and Tököl.

Poor economic conditions forced Hungary's politicians to repeatedly delay the tough long term decisions necessary to revive the country's air force. With a lack of momentum to fuel the MHRC's regeneration, its air force had experienced a 40% decrease in operational combat aircraft and personnel from 1996 to 1999, by which time only 40-60% of its aircraft were serviceable, with the rest in storage. Almost all of its Russian-built aircraft and helicopters will reach their final airframe hours within a few years into the 21st Century.

During late 1996 and early 1997, the MHRC's fighter force lost much of its life blood with the withdrawal of more than 45 aircraft of three fighter types: the Mikoyan MiG-21MF and MiG-23MF/UB and the Sukhoi Su-22M3/ UM3. Although a dozen MiG-21MFs had enough flying hours left, the MF model itself had become obsolete and was used as a spare-part bin for the MiG-21bis fleet at Hungary's Pápa air base.

The withdrawal of the Su-22 Fitters ultimately became a cause célčbre. The MHRC's sole dedicated strike unit - a squadron equipped with a dozen Su-22M3s and three Su-22UM3 trainers - had a secondary reconnaissance role when the aircraft were fitted with the KKR-1TE/2MK photographic/electronic intelligence pod. With the MHRC's new focus on air defence, a strike unit was no longer needed. So less than six months after the last overhauled Su-22M3 was delivered, all of the aircraft were taken out of service, causing heated debate in the Hungarian parliament.

After joining NATO in 1999 Hungary began progressively re-organising its armed forces to make them more compatible with allied forces. After the organizational transformation was finished in 2007, from 2008, the emphasis was on stabilization and development. The arrival of the Gripen fighters was a milestone, and the activation of the NATO Heavy Airlift Wing in Pápa is one of the biggest professional successes of the past four years In order to support operations, it is very important to preserve the fixed wing airlift capability of the HDF, therefore they plan to prolong the period of service of the An-26 airplanes and modernize them, and from 2014, they will be replaced with other aircraft.

The units of the air force are directly subordinated to the HDF JFC. They are tasked with controlling and defending the integrity of the airspace of Hungary and of the area of operations, timely detection of air attacks and providing support and air defence cover for the forces en gaged in operations. The air force comprises: Aircraft units (fixed and rotary-wing attack and transport aircraft); Surface-to-air missile (SAM) unit (close- and short range air defence systems); Air surveillance and Control Systems (ASACS) units (airspace surveillance units). Within the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) program and the framework of Host Nation Support, the HDF are responsible for the accommodation and partly for the operational conditions of the Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW) stationed at HDF Pápa Air Base. They provide logistic support to the three C-17 airlifters and to the more than 200-strong international staff of the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) program.

The Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) Program is projected for 30 years. The realisation that most NATO countries cannot solve individually the task of strategic airlift led to the initiation of this program. So far 12 nations have joined the agreement laying the foundations of the programme (SAC MOU – SAC Memorandum of Understanding): 10 NATO member states (Bulgaria, USA, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania and Slovenia) and two PfP countries – Sweden and Finland. Within the SAC the 12 countries created a fleet comprising C-17 Globemaster III airlifters, which they operate and fund together.

The three C-17 transport planes are registered in Hungary and have Hungarian Air Force markings on them. The personnel of the 150-strong Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW) – which is tasked with operating the C-17 fleet and based at Pápa – come from 12 nations. This programme is of utmost importance to Hungary because it meets the strategic airlift requirements of the HDF. The SAC program is still open for NATO and PfP nations considering cooperation in the field of strategic airlift.

The Strategic Airlift Capability Heavy Airlift Wing has been executing several airlift missions with its Boeing C-17 Globemaster III long range cargo jets to support the expanded land force training activities of the SAC nations’ armed forces in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. SAC program receives its mission requests from its 10 NATO and 2 NATO Partnership for Peace member nations who use the capability of the C-17s they own and operate together to support national defense and UN, EU and NATO commitments. This time the missions were requested by a SAC nation willing to show support to other program member nations and allies in the NATO context and we were there to answer the call.

The Ohio National Guard joint forces with the Hungarian Air Force in support of the exercise as part of the National Guard's State Partnership Program, linking the unique capabilities of the National Guard with the armed forces of a partner country. While Ohio's partnership with Hungary began in 1993, Hungary officially joined NATO in 1999, further enhancing capabilities and readiness, and a stronger commitment to the collective defense and security of Europe. "The strong bonds between Hungary and the state of Ohio were forged as part of the original State Partnership Program back in 1993," said Lt. Col. Gregory Barasch, commander of the 180FW's 112th Fighter Squadron. "Our mutually beneficial security cooperation spans more than two decades and continues to foster strong, long-term relationships that will enhance future combined operations and improve interoperability while providing incredible training opportunities for our entire unit."

Since 1961, the creation and maintenance of NATO's integrated air defense system (NATINADS) has been one of the most important tasks of the Alliance. Integrated air protection is intended tocontribute to NATO's current core tasks: collective defense and crisis managementand mutual security. It was complemented by NATO's 2010 Lisbon Summitout the system with missile defense activities and the missile defense systemelements.Operation and maintenance of NATINAMDS in peace is one of NATO's most important tasks, but this system would also be used in crisis or war situations.

Hungary’s air force has stood the test in the Fire Blade 2017, Load Diffuser 2017 and Saber Guardian 2017 exercises and was also be involved in the Carpathian Hawk 2017 exercise.

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Page last modified: 23-12-2018 10:55:20 ZULU