Hungary to buy air defense missiles from US for $1 billion

The planned procurement comes amid an increase of defense spending by the Eastern European country for the past several years

The NASAMS. Photos: Raytheon

The Stripes website reports that Hungary signed a declaration of intent Wednesday to purchase air defense missiles from the United States for around $1 billion. The agreement was signed by Hungarian Defense Minister Tibor Benko and David Cornstein, the U.S. ambassador to Hungary. The U.S. Embassy described the deal as Hungary's largest-ever defense procurement from the United States.

Armyrecognition.com said the procurement will be of NASAMS (National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) air defense missile systems which include both air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles.

In revealing his government's plans to secure U.S.-made weapons, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said last year that "the construction of the modern Hungarian army is happening now." The Orban government has increased annual defense spending since around 2015 following deep cuts in the years following the 2008 financial crisis. Hungary is a member of NATO, whose members agreed in 2014 to gradually raise national defense spending to 2% of GDP by 2024. According to Hungary's 2021 budget plan, defense spending is projected to reach 778 billion forints ($2.25 billion) next year, or around 1.66% of GDP.