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Hungary Air Force twoship

Gripen in the Hungarian Air Force

2 min read

In an interview with, Major General Kilian Nandor from the Hungarian Air Force talks about what it takes to become a fighter pilot and how they use their Gripen jet fighters.


According to Major General Nandor, usually, the flight tasks in Hungary are conducted at an altitude of 12,000 metres for normal fights. “It is important to know that Hungary is located in a place where there is a constant flow of traffic over the country in all directions, so the airspace must be divided so that there is room for everyone,” he says.

About pilot training, Major General Nandor says it’s a long process. First a new pilot has to spend at least a year in Szolnok to be tested for his or her suitability. Then they are sent to Canada for two years, followed by the final training in Sweden. The pilots then return home to spend at least a year before they can participate in live missions.

“In total, it’s a minimum of at least a five-year training period. This is important because once we are sent an alarm, within 15 minutes, these boys are needed to be ready, up in the air, and in control, even if it is 2 am and raining. There is also extra training for handling ground an air targets, Major General Nandor says.

The Hungarian Air Force also sends its Gripens for air policing missions in the Baltics. It’s is usually a 4-month long mission for which 4-6 aircraft and pilots and aircraft technicians are sent. The last time the Hungarian Gripens were alerted more than 40 times during their Baltic mission. According to Major General Nandor, the Hungarian Air Force Gripens will be sent for their next Baltic mission in 2022.

On being asked what it takes to be a fighter pilot, Major General Nandor says that a fighter pilot must be physically fit and able to quickly decide. “It’s not a sport flight, these planes are there to destroy others. This is not just about destroying a horizontally flying bomber, if any, but also about fighting against the same technology, or with fighters of the same airworthiness. Deciding in seconds or tenths of a second is the biggest challenge.”

Read the full interview here.