Minister of Defense, István Simicskó at a conference of the Hungarian Defence Forces (HDF) said that the Hungarian government aims to make its military one of the “most decisive” armies in the region. Using the greater potential ensured by the growth of the Hungarian economy, “unprecedented in the past 25 years,” the ministry has elaborated medium and long-term strategies, based on being able to respond to the “challenges of the present and the future.”
Known as Zrínyi 2026, the Ministry of Defence’s program prioritises the modernisation of soldiers’ individual equipment, including clothing and weapons, as well as developing the HDF’s aircraft and helicopter capabilities. To this end, two additional light helicopters have been added to the fleet already. Besides this, work has started on reviving the Hungarian defence industry, with plans to develop communication and information systems (CIS). In addition to overcoming conventional military challenges, Simicskó also discussed the increase in the number of cyber attacks as a topic of consideration.
At the same time, Hungary is facing real, non-virtual dangers in the form of the migration crisis and the increasing number of terrorist attacks against Europe. Simicskó praised the soldiers of the HDF for protecting Hungarian borders and citizens.
Reaffirming President János Áder’s statement that security is an indispensable part of a nation’s existence, and has to be worked for every day, Simicskó stressed that although the HDF is responsible for guaranteeing a proper level of security, more must be done to get the community involved. Part of the Zrínyi 2026 is therefore aimed at propagating the idea of “Defence of the homeland as a national cause,” with attention given to voluntary participation.
As a result, the system of the volunteer reserve will be significantly overhauled. The current 5300 odd reservists would see a marked increase, with the goal being to establish a volunteer reserve unit on a territorial base in each of the country’s 197 districts.
Besides the enhanced security expected from the measure, this development is hoped to have an important role in the character-building aspect of the nation’s education. Much is also expected from the National Defence Sports Association, formed in January, through which it might be easier to reach young people. Additionally, as a token of esteem for its soldiers, pay will continue to rise, continuing the increase of 40% since 2015.
Additionally, a system of healthcare was introduced and the HDF’s orphan support system was expanded. The army’s educational opportunities aren’t neglected either. New scholarship opportunities mean that the Ministry of Defence now offers as many as 18 different programs.