Russia unveils its new ‘Checkmate’ single-engine fighter jet

Russian state aircraft manufacturer Rostec unveiled a prototype of a new fifth-generation fighter jet at the International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS-2021, held in Zhukovsky near Moscow.

The new Sukhoi fighter jet, dubbed Checkmate, features stealth capabilities and other advanced characteristics and will be offered to foreign buyers. It is likely to be touted as a rival to the U.S. F-35 stealth fighter, said Oleg Panteleyev, head of the Aviaport analytical agency.

The Checkmate was created jointly by the Rostec military-industrial complex and the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), which brings together the main Russian civil and military aircraft manufacturers. It belongs to the so-called fifth-generation of fighter jets, a definition that assumes stealth characteristics and a capability to cruise at supersonic speed, among other advanced features.

The prospective warplane has a single-engine and is classified as a Light Tactical Aircraft. It is designed to be smaller and cheaper than Russia’s latest Su-57 two-engine stealth fighter, also built by Sukhoi. While the finer details of the Checkmate are not yet released, its makers claimed that the fighter jet could fly at a speed of 1.8-2 times the speed of sound, has a range of 3,000 km (1,864 miles), and a payload of 7,400 kg.

Rostec said the new design includes artificial intelligence features to assist the pilot and other innovative technologies. They also said that the design could be converted to an unpiloted version and a two-seat model. The jet fighter “combines innovative solutions and technologies” and has “low visibility and high flight performance.”

The Checkmate is expected to make its maiden flight in 2023, and deliveries could start in 2026, Yury Slyusar, head of the United Aircraft Corporation, told reporters during the presentation. Russia plans to produce 300 of the aircraft over 15 years once serial production begins.

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