Hungary welcomes first H225M helicopters to Szolnok

The Hungarian Air Force (HuAF) formally welcomed the first two of 16 Airbus Helicopters H225M Caracal medium-lift multi-purpose helicopters to Szolnok Air Base – home of the MH 86 Helikopter Ezred (HE; Helicopter Regiment) – on July 17.

Piloted by both French and Hungarian airmen, the two newly acquired tactical transport-configured H225Ms – serials 70 and 71, which still wore the French civil registrations F-ZWCV and F-ZWBH, respectively – were welcomed to Szolnok by a traditional water cannon salute before they were received by Brig Gen József Koller, Acting Commander of the Hungarian Defence Forces (HDF) Air Force Command, and Col Zsolt Simon, Vice Commander of the MH 86 HE. The arrival of the two helicopters at Szolnok comes after the HuAF formally accepted delivery of the pair at Airbus Helicopters’ Marignane Development Centre in France this June.

Airbus Helicopters H225M Caracal (serial 71) was one of an initial two examples of the medium-lift multi-purpose helicopter to be delivered to the HuAF on July 17. In total, 16 H225Ms will eventually be stationed at Szolnok Air Base and operated by the MH 86 HE, replacing the nation’s ageing Hip helicopters.
Airbus Helicopters H225M Caracal (serial 71) was one of an initial two examples of the medium-lift multi-purpose helicopter to be delivered to the HuAF on July 17. In total, 16 H225Ms will eventually be stationed at Szolnok Air Base and operated by the MH 86 HE, replacing the nation’s ageing Hip helicopters. Hungarian Defence Forces

This initial delivery comes after the HuAF and Airbus concluded type acceptance testing of the H225M in Hungary – a campaign that began in 2021 and came to an end earlier this year following a series of type acceptance test flights. According to the HDF, during this process “special attention was being paid to the characteristics of the configuration because these medium-lift helicopters were custom-built to meet the needs of the Hungarian Defence Forces.”

Equipped with Airbus’ HForce weapon management system, the HuAF’s 16-strong H225M Caracal fleet will be used to carry out combat search-and-rescue (CSAR), troop/equipment transport and special forces missions. It has been acquired to replace the HuAF’s five remaining Mil Mi-17 Hip-Hs. Between 2014 and 2021, the HuAF’s last four Mi-8T transport helicopters were gradually retired from service, leaving just three Mi-17s and two Mi-17Ns operational. These five Hips will remain in use until 2024/2025, when all of the H225Ms will have been delivered.