UPDATE 1-Hungary to buy air defence missiles from Kongsberg and Raytheon

BUDAPEST, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Hungary has agreed to buy NASAMS air defence systems from Norway’s Kongsberg and U.S. arms manufacturer Raytheon Technologies, the Hungarian government said on Thursday.

It said in a statement that Hungary, which has long said it will increase military spending, would take delivery of the air defence systems in 2023.

Like many other NATO member states, Hungary remains far short of the alliance’s defence spending target of 2% of economic output.

The former Communist-ruled, central European country signed a declaration of intent to buy air defence missiles from Raytheon in a $1 billion deal in August under U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has nurtured friendly ties with Trump. He faces the prospect of a more complicated relationship with President-elect Joe Biden after accusing U.S. Democrats of “moral imperialism.”

“By selecting the NASAMS systems, which also protect the U.S. capital and are in widespread use in NATO, we have opted for a solution providing the best fit with alliance requirements,” a statement cited government commissioner Gaspar Maroth as saying.

The NASAMS purchase marks the latest step in Hungary’s gradual upgrade of its ageing military infrastructure after earlier deals to buy Airbus H225M military helicopters and Lynx KF41 combat vehicles from western European vendors.

The new missile systems will replace outdated Soviet technology that has been in operation for over four decades, the government said. (Reporting by Gergely Szakacs, Editing by Timothy Heritage)