Military Aviation

Meet the ‘Checkmate’, the new Sukhoi lightweight stealth fighter that Russia aims to sell to Argentina, India, Vietnam, and the UAE

Ahead of the MAKS Moscow Airshow set to run on Jul. 20-25, 2021, Russia teased the existence of “The Checkmate’, a new fighter aircraft.

Ahead of the MAKS Moscow Airshow set to run on Jul. 20-25, 2021, Russia teased the existence of “The Checkmate’, a new fighter aircraft.

First, on Jul. 13, Rostec State Corporation posted a teaser video of the new aircraft featuring according to the company “allusions to the key features and unique properties of the project” that has been developed by United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) (Sukhoi is the design house).

As noted by Janes, while the video (which you can watch here) itself gave little away as to the configuration or capabilities of the aircraft, it alluded to a target export market that includes Argentina, India, Vietnam, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In line with this new aircraft being aimed more towards the export market, the video is in English rather than Russian.

Of greater significance than the promotional teaser video has been the emergence of photos of a mockup of the aircraft on Jul. 15 and today at the Zhukovsky show site on the outskirts of Moscow. The aircraft is a single-engine fighter and appears to be what Stephen Trimble, defence editor for Aviation Week, called a “lightweight stealth fighter”.

‘So, now the new Russian jet was unveiled – and it turns out that, yes, it’s a sort of a scaled-down mix of Northrop’s YF-23 (fin area; the Russians are known to have loved that solution a lot, already back in the 1990s) and Boeing’s X-32,’ says world famous aviation author and The Aviation Geek Club Contributor Tom Cooper.

Apparently, the Checkmate can be considered he Russian counterpart to the US F-35 Lightning II.

Giving details of the project, UAC announced it would present a “fundamentally new military aircraft” on July 20. As reported by The Week, a spokesperson for Rostec, Russia’s armament export company, said, “Russia is one of the few countries in the world with full-cycle capacities for producing advanced aircraft systems, as well as a recognized trendsetter in the creation of combat aircraft. The new product developed by UAC specialists should arouse genuine interest not only in our country, but also in other regions of the world, including our competitors abroad.”

In May, Russian news agencies reported the Sukhoi design bureau was developing a single-engine fighter. At the time, Russia’s TASS news agency had reported, “The Sukhoi company is developing a single-engine light tactical plane with the take-off weight of up to 18 tonnes. The plane’s maximum speed will be above 2 Mach (twice the speed of sound). It will also have super-manoeuvrability and improved take-off and landing performance, thanks to a thrust vector control engine…” Rostec had previously invited India to join the development of a single-engine fighter.

Photo credit: Rob Lee on Twitter

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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