Hungary, Sweden sign fighter jet deal before NATO membership vote

Hungary, the last NATO country to approve Sweden’s membership bid, will hold a parliamentary vote on Monday.

Hungary has signed a deal to buy four fighter jets from Sweden, as Budapest finally prepares to approve Stockholm’s bid to join NATO after nearly two years of delays.

“We not only keep our air defence capability but will increase it,” Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in a news conference alongside Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson on Friday of the agreement to buy four Saab JAS Gripen fighter jets.

This “means our commitment to NATO will strengthen and so will our participation in NATO’s joint operations,” Orban added. Hungary will also expand a related logistics contract. It currently leases Gripen aircraft under a contract signed in 2001.

Kristersson welcomed the deal and said that “the conversation has been constructive, and we have agreed to move forward in fields of common interests”.

Hungary, the final country to approve Sweden’s bid to join the transatlantic military alliance, will hold a vote in parliament on Monday after Turkey’s ratification last month.

The delay in ratifying Sweden’s NATO application soured Budapest’s relations with the United States and raised concerns among its allies.

Sweden sought to join the military alliance in 2022 along with Finland following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.