Finally, the much-anticipated Russian fighter was revealed – an overwhelming “weapon of the future” – the fifth-generation light stealth fighter, called the “Checkmate”.
The launch was attended by Russian President Putin in an exhibition booth of the Sukhoi company. Accordingly, this fifth-generation light single-engine fighter prototype is unique and has never been developed before in Russia. According to the General Manager of United Aircraft Corporation, Mr. Slyusar, the Checkmate is described as a unique aircraft in its class, with a combat radius of 1,500 km. It has the largest thrust-to-weight ratio, shortened take-off and landing times, and a combat payload of more than 7 tons – an absolute record for aircraft of this class.
Checkmate uses technologies that have been tested in real combat conditions. Digital design work helped Sukhoi develop this aircraft in record time. Although development takes only about a year, the first flight of “Checkmate” is expected to be completed in 2023, and further prototypes will be produced in 2025, with the goal of mass production in 2026.
The jet is designed to be stealthy, able to operate in almost any weather condition. It is said to be capable of continuous supersonic flight, at speeds of up to Mach 1.8. According to Rostec, “Checkmate” has a range of up to 2,800km and a maximum payload of 7,400kg. The Aircraft designed with short but non-vertical take-offs. It is equipped with modular weapons bays that can accommodate the full range of current air-to-air missiles, gun mounts, bombs and rockets. A UAV version is also currently in development.
In his opening speech for MAKS 2021, President Putin praised Russia’s aviation industry: “What we see now in Zhukovsky obviously demonstrates that the Russian aviation has high potential for development.” – “Our aircraft industry also continues creating new competitive aviation equipment.”
According to Rostec general manager Sergey Chemezov, “Checkmate” will be a more effective and affordable alternative to the US F-35 and the French Dassault Rafael, which cost between $60 million and $90 million each. As expected, the price of each Checkmate will be between 25 to 30 million dollars. Market analyzes have predicted a demand for about 300 “Checkmate” units from existing Russian export customers in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Latin America.
According to Expert Stefanovich: “This is a game changer in the market. It’s been a long time since Russia launched a single-engine fighter. For a long time, there were not any new Russian light fighters on the market. And there is no such fifth-generation aircraft.” Accordingly, countries such as the UAE, Argentina, and India could be the first customers of the new jet.
The new Russian single-engine fifth-generation fighter has an air intake under the cockpit. There is a larger main weapons bay within the lower fuselage. This is designed to accommodate three examples of the RVV-BD air-to-air missile, the export version of the very-long-range R-37M, or AA-13. According to thedrive, there are long, conformal weapons bays located forward of the main landing gear are indeed intended to house smaller air-to-air missiles, for close-range defense. Checkmate’s cockpit – which shows a single, large-area display that dominates the dashboard, plus a smaller screen above it, together with a traditional central control stick and a conventional-looking head-up display.
Under Putin, Russia has invested heavily in military aircraft and new armaments, both for its own armed forces and also to boost export revenue from weapon sales. Many of its new weapons are still based on Soviet-era technology from the Cold War.