NATO's missile defence system should be "fully operational" by 2018, but parts of it are expected to work already next year, the chief of the Western military alliance said Wednesday, DPA reported.
"As things stand today ... we would expect it to be fully operational in 2018," NATO Secretary General
Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on the margins of a meeting of the alliance's defence ministers in Brussels.
However, "an interim operational capability" should be declared by the time NATO meets for a summit in Chicago in May 2012, he said.
Rasmussen spoke hours before Spain's contribution to the US-inspired project was due to be announced, adding itself to Turkey, Romania, Poland, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands.
"I would not be surprised if we will see further announcements in the comings weeks and months as regards new inputs" from other countries, Rasmussen said.