Aerospace & Defence Hungary

Rheinmetall opens ‘Europe’s most modern and finest tank factory’ in Hungary

| 2023-08-21 3 min read

Rheinmetall opens ‘Europe’s most modern and finest tank factory’ in Hungary

Reading Time: 3 minutes

German munitions company Rheinmetall proclaimed its unit for armoured vehicles as Europe’s most advanced plant when it inaugurated the new factory in Zalaegerszeg, western Hungary, on Friday, 18 August. Amongst other military hardware, the high-tech facility will make the Lynx, the world’s most advanced infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), creating 350 jobs.

Tanks, support vehicles, lorries among future products

Rheinmetall’s contract with Hungary includes 209 Lynx KF41 vehicles in seven variants, 18 combat support vehicles including Buffel/Buffalo 3 armoured recovery vehicles, 38 military lorries, simulators and spare parts, and also offer training, instruction and maintenance support.

In the initial production phase, the German arms maker will supply Hungary with 46 Lynx systems configured as infantry fighting vehicles or for command and control roles, and 9 Buffel/Buffalo 3 armoured recovery vehicles. Deliveries have already commenced, and a later phase will be a joint venture that makes and delivers 172 Lynx systems and various combat support vehicles inside Hungary.

Hungary PM underlines other military projects nationwide

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said at the inauguration: “By manufacturing weapons, you are strong, and peace requires strength,” he said. “We want to live in peace … but there will never be peace unless peace can be defended.” 

The Hungarian premier recalled that an Airbus factory manufacturing parts for combat helicopters began operations around one year ago in Gyula, east Hungary. Orban also commented that Czech company Aero Vodochody, which manufactures combat and training aircraft, “has been taken over by Hungarians, so there is already a Hungarian-owned aircraft factory”.

Orban also highlighted the recent deal involving Israeli company UVision to set up a plant in Hungary to manufacture combat drones. Europe’s most advanced ammunition factories will next year begin operating in Varpalota, west Hungary, operated jointly with Rheinmetall, he added.

In a separate development in Zala county, south-west Hungary, a production, and testing centre, including an environmental test chamber and a firing tunnel, is currently under construction on a 33-hectare site.

Hungary to become key defence industry player – Rheinmetall chief

Rheinmetall AG Chairman Armin Papperger called the inauguration “a notable stride for our company, symbolising our strong bonds with the Hungarian government and armed forces, a valued EU partner and fellow NATO member.”

Papperger added that “Europe’s most modern and finest tank factory” will provide Hungary with “outstanding defence capabilities” after being built at record speed. “We can see that Hungary is poised to become an important player in Europe’s defence industry,” he added.

Rheinmetall said it is bolstering the Hungarian economy and defence industry while introducing to the global market its ultramodern, future-proof Lynx IFV, with advanced high-performance sensors and Lance weapon station.

Papperger said: “We take pride in being part of the burgeoning industrial community in Zalaegerszeg and eagerly anticipate collaborating with local partners while harnessing local talent.”

Orban explains Hungary’s long-standing defence plan

Orban told attendees at the inauguration that it would be a misconception to think the development of the Hungarian defence industry was a response to the war in Ukraine, as the first relevant decisions were made in 2017. The Zalaegerszeg plant is the outcome of joint German-Hungarian “wisdom and foresight”, he said, adding that he is grateful to Papperger for contributing to government decision-making.

In December 2016, then-Hungarian defence minister Istvan Simicsko unveiled the Zrinyi 2026 programme, an initiative aimed at revamping Hungary’s military. The programme aims to meet NATO’s requirement for 2% GDP defence expenditure by 2024. Rheinmetall said in a statement that it is playing a pivotal role in the Zrinyi 2026 initiative.

In May 2022, three months after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the decision was made to move the deadline for planned procurements and investments from 2030 to 2027-28. By mid-November of that year, the revised draft of the Armed Forces Development Programme for the next decade had been finalised. The pace of the programme’s acceleration may be constrained by industry capacities, according to Rheinmetall, however.