Due to several factors, the government has postponed the purchase of new helicopters until after the next year national election. The government has also decided that to maintain operability of the current Russian made helicopter fleet fourteen helicopters will be reconditioned. Advanced negotiations are under way with Oboronprom the owner of the Russian Helicopter Industry Association that was awarded with the refurbishing contract last November.
The Ministry of Defense has been looking at ways to renew the aging helicopter fleet for two and a half years. Ministry officials looked at several options in the past couple of years. First, they flirted with a U.S. proposal that offered 30 used UH-1N helicopters that the United States Marine Corps withdrawn from active service due to their age. However, ministry officials didn't get guaranties from the American partner that the used helicopters still can function another twenty more years as the operational background of the equipment was uncertain.
Soon after the American offer was dropped several leading helicopter manufacturers submitted proposals to supply the Hungarian Armed Forces with new helicopters; among the bidders were the American Sikorsky, the Franco-German Eurocopter and the Italian AgustaWestland.
AgustaWestland offered brand new top of the line equipment that would have been delivered as part of the Italian-Hungarian intergovernmental agreement for military cooperation. Advanced negotiations were already under way between the Hungarian government and the Italian manufacturer however, due to several unforeseen developments such as the arrest of the Italian manufacturer's top executives negotiations came to a halt.
Due to these developments, the Hungarian government decided that it creates a new bidding process for buying helicopters. A call for tender will be published at international level but to eliminate political controversy around the issue, only after the national election next year.
(mno.hu – hungarianambiance.com)