Kecskemét International Air Show to be Held Again in 2021

Hungarian Defense Forces news site and local county news site have reported that an agreement has been signed between the Hungarian Defense Forces (HDF) and the city of Kecskemét to hold the Kecskemét International Air Show in 2021, following an 8-year pause.

Defense Minister Tibor Benkő and the mayor of Kecskemét, Klaudia Szemereyné Pataki signed the agreement between the city and the Ministry of Defense agreeing the usage of the airbase for the airshow.

During the years it was previously held, Kecskemét Air Show was among the biggest in Europe. The first show in 1990 was a historically significant event, as it was the first time aircraft of Warsaw Pact and USAF met in such an environment. The aircraft in question were two USAF F-16Cs out of Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany, and two MiG-29s of the Soviet Airforce from Kiskunlacháza, Hungary.

USAF F-16 and Soviet MiG-29 in 1990

The airbase is currently undergoing maintenance and modernization under NATO’s Security Investment Programme and Hungary’s Modern Cities programme. Once finished, these efforts will allow Kecskemét to function as a dual purpose, military and civilian airport.  
Because of these modernization efforts, HuAF JAS 39 Gripens have had to operate out of Pápa Air Base for 6 months. Situated in western Hungary, Pápa also serves as the Main Operating Base of NATO’s Strategic Airlift Capability.

The Gripens have already returned to Kecskemét, but construction is still underway. So far the airbase has had its runway resurfaced, received new lighting equipment, and working areas and support infrastructure. It is also set to receive additional radio navigation equipment and new parking areas for large transport aircraft.

Sukhoi-27s of the Russian Knights demo team (Photo credit: László Tóth)

Last held in 2013, the air show was among the few in Europe where the famous Russian Knights aerobatic demo team made an appearance. Considering the geopolitical developments of the last 6 years, it is unlikely that the Russian Knights will return to perform their routine in 2021. Just who and what will be attending the show when it returns remains to be seen!