Russia begins production of S-400 missiles sold to Turkey
“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 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.
Sales to India
Separately, Russia said on April 25 that it expected to sign a deal with India this year on the sale of S-400, the Interfax news agency reported.
It cited Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation as saying that all the technical aspects of the contract had been agreed and a price just needed to be decided.
“I think that in the current year we will sign the corresponding contract document,” Interfax quoted Dmitry Shugaev, the head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, as saying.
India wants to procure the long-range missile systems to tighten its air defense mechanism, particularly when China has been ramping up its military maneuvering along the nearly 4,000 km Sino-India border.
In 2016, India and Russia had signed an agreement on “Triumf” interceptor-based missile system which can destroy incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and even drones at ranges of up to 400 kilometers. S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defense system.
Moscow has already started delivery of unknown number of the S-400 missile systems to China.