Early last week Turkey announced the start of a second round of S-400 component deliveries from Russia at a moment Turkish President Erdogan met with Putin in Moscow to hold talks on Syria developments. But it already appears the first batch — delivered in July at Mürted Air Base near Ankara — has gone operational, new satellite images reveal.
Leading commercial satellite imaging site ImageSat International announced Tuesday that "for the first time observed, the recently arrived from Russia to Turkey S400 is in operational mode and deployed in Ankara."
ImageSat noted that according to the newly published images the system's launchers are not yet loaded, yet "the radars are stationed and deployed".
"It is probably that some of the observed was arrived in Ankara by Russia in the second shipment, after the first shipment occurred on July 2019," according to the analysis.
There's a likelihood the current site observed is a "trial and test" deployment, but could also become the permanent operational site, according to ImageSat.
Turkish media reports suggest the second batch of deliveries for the advanced Russian air defense system will be complete within several weeks; the S-400s are expected to be fully deployed and operational across Turkey by April 2020.
Most importantly, what the now confirmed hasty deployment of the first S-400 system in Ankara confirms is that Erdogan has been completely unfazed by recent threatened US sanctions and the cancellation of Turkey's participation in the US F-35 program.
With about 100 Lockheed F-35 jets hanging in the balance, which Washington could permanently block, it's clear Turkey is not looking back.