BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary on Wednesday signed a declaration of intent to buy air defence missiles from U.S. arms manufacturer Raytheon Technologies, Hungarian state news agency MTI reported, citing the defence minister.
The deal, worth about $1 billion, will be managed through the Foreign Military Sales programme and will be concluded by the end of September, MTI added.
Hungary has long vowed to increase its military spending, which as in many NATO countries remains far short of the alliance’s goal of 2 percent of economic output. Much of its military infrastructure dates back to communist times.
It recently purchased tanks from Germany and is renewing its air capabilities as well, and Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government has put more focus on the military than most governments in past decades, when economic improvement was the priority.
Defence Minister Tibor Benko said things had changed.
“We see that the peace that we live in is an extremely vulnerable situation,” he said, adding that extended beyond armed conflict into hybrid warfare such as in Crimea.
Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, was one reason why Western allies have criticised Hungary for its closeness with Moscow. Orban campaigned for Western sanctions against Russia to be eased.
Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto announced at a 2019 press briefing with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Budapest that the two countries were discussing the procurement of American air defence systems.
Reporting by Marton Dunai and Anita Komuves; Editing by Jan Harvey and Elaine Hardcastle
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