Russia has started production of the S-400 air defense system for Turkey, manufacturing company Rosoboronexport General Director Alexandre Miheev said on April 25.
“We have started to execute the contract. We are not talking about deliveries of S-400; the production of the air defense system has started,” Miheev said in the southern Turkish province of Antalya, according to state-controlled news agency RIA Novosti.
Last December, Turkey announced that it had concluded an agreement with Russia for the purchase of two S-400 systems by late 2019.
On April 3, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin said in Ankara that they had agreed to shorten the duration of the systems’ delivery. The delivery is expected to start in either late 2019 or early 2020.
“We decided to shorten the duration of S-400 missiles’ delivery [to Turkey] during our meeting,” Putin had said.
Turkey, a NATO member, has long been under pressure from its main NATO allies, particularly the United States, to cancel the agreement for the procurement of the S-400s systems, as they cannot be interoperable with existing NATO anti-ballistic defense architecture.
The S-400 system has been in the inventory of the Russian military since 2007. The missile system can detect targets 600 kilometers away and eliminate threats from multiple sources such as stealth aircraft and ballistic missiles. The S-400 system is composed of at least one mobile operation command center, eight launchers and 32 missiles.