The Hungarian Ministry of Defence has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space), calling for the upgrade of 14 Hungarian air force RSK MiG-29 fighters to NATO standards.

The work is to be performed by MiG Aircraft Product Support (MAPS) in partnership with local firm Danubian, but remains subject to agreement over the terms of a binding contract. MAPS is 50%-owned by EADS, with Russia's RSK holding 34% and FGUP Rosvooruzhenie the balance.

US ambassador Peter Tufo provoked controversy in Hungary after being reported by local media as claiming that the agreement was a "mistake" because the Russian-built aircraft, even when upgraded, would not be capable of participating in NATO operations.

The USA is trying to place used Lockheed Martin F-16s with Hungary as an interim solution to the country's supersonic fighter requirement, as a precursor to a possible sale of new F-16s.

EADS says the German air force operates MiG-29s that are fully NATO compatible, therefore "if [Tufo] made those comments, he doesn't know what he is talking about".

Source: Flight International