Checkmate is expected to make its first test flight in 2023, commencing production in 2026.
According to Defensenews, Rostec is in talks with Emirati businesses on cooperation in the production of the Su-75 Checkmate. Russia’s decision to make the Dubai Airshow the international debut of its Su-75 Checkmate is no coincidence, with Moscow actively positioning its fighter as an alternative for those who are having trouble buying the American-made F-35. The Russian defense giant also plans to create an unmanned version of the fighter.
So far, the jet, which was unveiled with much fanfare over the summer, lacks an initial customer. “Domestically, they can champion the Checkmate as a triumph of engineering that can compete with cutting edge western technology, securing Russia’s place at the table as a competitive international industrial power,” said Samuel Archer, senior military analyst with Aviation Week.
Checkmate is expected to make its first test flight in 2023, commencing production in 2026. Kladov, who heads Rostec’s international cooperation and regional policy department, said that the company began to make plans to produce a light and cheap fifth-generation fighter after assessing demand for such a product in Middle-Eastern markets. “This sector is empty except for F-35, which is co-produced between 22 countries. Even for the U.S., producing on their own is quite expensive,” said Kladov.
Former president Donald Trump agreed to sell the UAE fifty F-35 Lightning II fifth-generation stealth fighters last year as part of a $23 billion defense contract that also included combat drones and other defense equipment, but the Biden administration previously froze the deal pending a sweeping review of its provisions.
This offers a great opportunity for Moscow to pitch the latest fifth-generation warplane, Checkmate to Abu Dhabi. Recently, the Checkmate was described as a product of Russia-UAE cooperation in various reports citing unnamed industry sources. According to speculations, the plane was designed specifically to meet the needs of the UAE.
It says CheckMate would replace UAE’s aging F-16 fleet if the country decides to buy the aircraft. The report further claims the UAE is best positioned to finance the program even though there is no update on the joint development plans.
Needless to say, the UAE has been eyeing the F-35 for years. The American aircraft is considered one of the most advanced fighter jets in the world. But delays in the F-35 deal could prompt the UAE to turn to Russia.
One challenge to this cooperation is that any potential deal between the UAE and Russia could lead to US sanctions, as is the case with Turkey. However, if this deal is successful, it will open a huge opportunity for Russia to reach out to potential customers. It would also put significant competitive pressure on the US F-35.