Hungarian Air Force

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Hungarian Air Force
Magyar Légierő
Hungarian Air Force emblem.svg
Emblem of the Hungarian Air Force
Founded1918; 102 years ago (1918)
Country Hungary
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Size5,750 active duty personnel
42 aircraft [1]
Part ofHungarian Defence Forces
Anniversaries15 August
Brigadier General Albert Sáfár
RoundelRoundel of Hungary.svg Roundel of Hungary – Low Visibility.svg
Aircraft flown
FighterJAS 39 Gripen
HelicopterMil Mi-8, Mil Mi-17, Airbus H125, Airbus H145M
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]


1918 to Pre–World War II[edit]

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[edit]

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.

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. 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[edit]

A Royal Hungarian Air Force Junker Ju-86 1942

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. 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, but initially only as an internal security force. 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. The Soviets kept Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29s based at Tököl until 1991 to defend Hungarian airspace.

In mid-1993, three batches of MiG-29s were delivered from Russia. They were based at Kecskemét. In 1994, a German gift of 20 MIL 24D/V's and 20 L-39's were donated. In 1997, Hungary undertook its first flying training course since 1956. The cost of the course was too high and was halted after the completion of only one course. Also in 1997 the MIG-23s were withdrawn from service as the Su-22s were retired 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]

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.[6]


Hungarian Air Force locations 2018:
Red pog.svg JAS-39C/D Gripen Pink pog.svg Helicopters Blue pog.svg other flying units
Purple pog.svg Air Defense Missile unit Lightgreen pog.svg Command & Control Centre Blue 0080ff pog.svg RAT-31DL radar
Steel pog.svg 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

  • Hungarian Defense Forces Command, in Székesfehérvár
    • Air Command and Control Centre, in Veszprém
      • Air Operations Centre
      • Control and Reporting Centre
        • Training and Reserve Control Centre, at Kecskemét Air Base
      • Military Air Traffic Management Centre
      • Meteorological Centre
      • Simulation and Exercise Centre
    • 12th Air Defense Missile Regiment "Arrabona", in Győr
      • 1st Air Defense Missile Battalion, with 2K12 Kub mobile SAM systems
      • 2nd Air Defense Missile Battalion, with Mistral SAM systems
      • Command and Control Battalion
      • Logistic Battalion
      • Training Company
    • 54th Radar Regiment "Veszprém", in Veszprém
      • Command Company
      • 1st Radar Data Centre, in Békéscsaba, with RAT-31DL
      • 2nd Radar Data Centre, in Medina, with RAT-31DL
      • 3rd Radar Data Centre, in Bánkút, with RAT-31DL
      • 11th Radar Company, in Kup
      • 12th Radar Company, in Juta
      • 21st Radar Company, in Debrecen
      • 22nd Radar Company, in Békéscsaba
      • Gap Filling Radar Company, in Medina
    • 59th Air Base "Dezső Szentgyörgyi", at Kecskemét Air Base
    • 86th Helicopter Base "Szolnok", at Szolnok Air Base
      • Base Operations Center
      • Transport Helicopter Battalion "Ernő Rubik", with 3x Mi-8, 5x Mi-17
      • Attack Helicopter Battalion "Phoenix", with 2x Mi-24V, 6x Mi-24P
      • Mixed Training Squadron, with 2x H125, 2x Z-242, 2x Z-143
      • Operations Support Battalion
      • Maintenance Battalion
      • Logistic Battalion
    • Pápa Air Base

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

A Hungarian MiG-29 over RIAT 2008

59. Air Base "Dezső Szentgyörgyi"[edit]

The 59th Air Base is the fixed-winged part of the Air Force. The 59th consists of one tactical fighter squadron and one airlift squadron.

There Fighter Squadron is nicknamed "Puma" and operates JAS-39C/D Gripen fighters.[7] The Hungarian Air Force is 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.[8] 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.[9] A replacement Gripen D was delivered from Sweden in 2016.[10] After the lease period expires, Hungary will own the remaining Gripens.

86th Helicopter Base "Szolnok"[edit]

The 86th Base is the home of the air force's helicopters. The 86th consists of one transport and one attack helicopter battalion.

The transport helicopter battalion of the 86th Wing operates Mi-8T and Mi-17N helicopters.

The Phoenix battalion operates Mi-24V/P attack helicopters.

The Training Squadron operates Z-242L trainers and H125 helicopters.

12th Air Defense Missile Regiment[edit]

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

During the Cold War period communist Hungary had numerous SA-2, SA-3, SA-4 and SA-5 batteries and a large number of radar installations, mostly tasked with defending the Danube line against NATO air strikes.

Pápa AFB[edit]

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[edit]

A JAS39C fly by
A Hungarian Mi-24 in flight
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat aircraft
JAS 39 Gripen Sweden multirole JAS 39C 12[11]
Airbus A319 Germany transport 2[11]
Dassault Falcon 7X France transport 2[12]
Mil Mi-17 Russia utility Mi-8/17 14[11]
Mil Mi-24 Russia attack Mi-24 V/P 8[11]
Airbus H145M France / Germany utility 11 9 on order[13]
Airbus H225M France / Germany transport 16 on order[11]
Eurocopter AS350 France liaison 2[11]
Trainer aircraft
Zlín Z 42 Czech Republic basic trainer 242 2[11]
Zlín Z 43 Czech Republic basic trainer 143 2[11]
JAS 39 Gripen Sweden conversion trainer JAS 39D 2[11]

NOTE: Three C-17 Globemaster III’s are stationed at Pápa Air Base in Hungary to support NATO’s Strategic Airlift Capability operations.[14]

Aircraft markings[edit]

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.


  1. ^ "World Air Forces 2019". Flightglobal Insight. 2019. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  2. ^ "The Military Balance: Vol 117, No 1".
  3. ^ "Scramble". 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". Archived from the original on 21 January 2014. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  6. ^ "Madarska umirovila transportni AN-26". (in Hungarian). 12 June 2020. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  7. ^ "Hungarian Gripens police Slovenia". AIRheads↑FLY. Archived from the original on 24 December 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  8. ^ "Hungarian Gripens get CAS role". AIRheads↑FLY. Archived from the original on 12 November 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  9. ^ Ranter, Harro. "Saab JAS 39D Gripen 42 Accident, 19 May 2015". Archived from the original on 23 May 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  10. ^ "Replacement Gripen arrives in Kecskemét". dailynewshungary. 1 July 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i "World Air Forces 2020". Flightglobal Insight. 2020. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  12. ^ "Hungary's new VIP Falcon on tour". Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  13. ^ "Hungary takes delivery of its first two H145Ms". Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  14. ^ "Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC)". Retrieved 8 April 2017.


  • Dorschener, Jim. "Hungary's Fleet Revolution". Air International, Vol. 86, No. 2. February 2014. pp. 72–75. ISSN 0306-5634.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]