Moscow: Russia has shipped China 15 advanced surface-to-air missile systems, the director of the Russian plant which produces the weapons was cited by news agencies as saying on Friday.

The truck-mounted air defense S-300 batteries, known by NATO as SA-20 Gargoyles, can target aircraft and ballistic missiles at a range of over 15 kilometers.

“We just fulfilled a large contract for the delivery to China of 15 batteries of the new S-300 missile defense systems,” Igor Ashurbeili, director of the Almaz-Antei plant was quoted as saying.

The contract included the supply of a total of 15 batteries, each usually consisting of four S-300 missiles, he said. He did not disclose the value of the deal.

Russia has acknowledged making a contract with Iran for the supply of the same advance missiles, alarming Israel and its allies, who believe the Islamic state could use the systems to guard against a potential strike on its nuclear installations.

The United States and Israel worry that Iran’s civilian nuclear energy program, including a power plant Russia is helping build at Bushehr, is a cover for ambitions to build an atomic bomb. Tehran has long denied such plans.

First deployed by the USSR in 1979, the S-300, nicknamed “the favorite” by Russians, is still seen as one of the most powerful anti-aircraft missiles on the market. It can simultaneously track up to 100 targets and engage 12.

China has long been a major client for Russian weaponry but the trade has become sensitive due to Russian concerns about piracy of its technology by the Chinese as Beijing strives to develop a home-grown weapons complex.