RT/Sp: On 20 July, Russian President Vladimir Putin inspected a prototype of Sukhoi’s new fifth-generation single-engine light tactical aircraft “Checkmate” – the staple of the MAKS-2021 air show. The newly unveiled fighter jet combines innovative solutions and technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) assistance for pilots.
The Checkmate, which might operate under the name Su-75 in Russia, has been developed by defence and technology giant Rostec and the United Aircraft Corporation in record time and will be produced in three versions: a one-seater, two-seater, and unmanned aircraft.
— Rostec Сorporation (@Rostec_Russia) July 15, 2021
Judging from the Checkmate’s specifications and performance data, the fighter will accelerate to Mach 1.8 (2,222.6 km/h) and carry a maximum payload of 7,400 kilogrammes with an estimated practical ceiling of 16.5 kilometres and flight range of 2,800 kilometres (without outboard fuel tanks).
The aircraft also employs stealth technologies and is capable of using modern aviation weapons installed in the plane’s internal compartments. The jet can reportedly be armed with: RVV-MD short-range air-to-air guided missiles; medium-range RVV-SD missiles; Kh-38 air-to-surface missiles; Kh-58UShKE anti-radiation missiles; “GROM-E1” airborne guided missiles; KAB-250LG-E laser-guided bombs; or S-8 and S-13 unguided aircraft rockets.
The Checkmate is designed to attack up to six targets simultaneously on land, air or sea, even under conditions of strong electronic interference. At the same time, the stealth jet’s price tag will be between $25-30 million (21-25 million euros), which is substantially lower than that of its major competitors, France’s Rafale, Sweden’s Gripen NG, or America’s fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II aircraft.
Yet another important advantage of the new Russian fighter is its low flight operating cost. According to Slyusar, it will be seven times lower than that of the F-35 ($33,000 per flight hour) and comparable to that of the Gripen NG (between $4,500 and $8,000 per flight hour). The Checkmate, however, significantly surpasses the latter in terms of combat capabilities, according to Slyusar.
As stated in the presentation of the aircraft, the portfolio of orders for the new light tactical fighter now stands at 300 units. Checkmate’s maiden flight is scheduled for 2023, while the construction of several test prototypes is due to be completed in 2024-2025. A year later, Sukhoi’s designers are expected to kick-start the creation of the first batch of aircraft. “Our task is for this plane to be offered en masse to customers starting in 2026”, Slyusar told reporters on 20 July.