- Russia has unveiled a prototype for a new fighter jet, one currently nicknamed “Checkmate.”
- Putin personally inspected the aircraft design at an aviation show on Tuesday.
- The Russian president hailed the creation as an example of Russia’s aviation industry prowess.
Russia officially unveiled a prototype of a stealthy new fighter on Tuesday as Russian President Vladimir Putin celebrated his country’s aviation industry and the development of new competitive aircraft designs.
The fighter, nicknamed “Checkmate,” was unveiled at the MAKS-2021 International Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky. The plane was kept in a hangar with the word “Checkmate” written in English, according to AFP.
The unveiling of the new single-engine fighter follows the release of an unusual teaser photo by Russian state-run defense conglomerate Rostoc last week and state media reports in spring of this year that Sukhoi Aircraft Company was working on a light tactical fighter able to fly at supersonic speeds with low observability.
—Ростех (@RostecRussia) July 15, 2021
“What we see now in Zhukovsky obviously demonstrates that the Russian aviation has high potential for development,” Putin, who personally inspected the new aircraft Tuesday, said in a speech at the start of the aviation show, according to state media. “Our aircraft industry also continues creating new competitive aviation equipment.”
—Rob Lee (@RALee85) July 20, 2021
Citing Oleg Panteleyev, the Executive Director of Aviaport Aviation News Agency, Russia’s state-run Tass News Agency recently suggested that the new light-to-medium-weight fighter jet could rival the US military’s fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.
Panteleyev appears to have been referring to competition in foreign markets rather than capability.
It is not clear how the new “Checkmate” fighterm — which Russian state media has said will be stealthy, have a high thrust to weight ratio, feature a large weapons payload capacity, and carry advanced armaments — might compare to US fifth-generation planes.
Russia currently has a number of capable fourth-generation fighters but only one fifth-generation fighter, the heavy Sukhoi Su-57.
The new fighter jet has a max speed of about Mach 2 and a range of about 1,800 miles, according to the Associated Press.
Additionally, the design can be reconfigured from a single-seat aircraft to a two-seat plane or set up for unmanned operations, the maker said.
The plane was designed by Sukhoi, part of the Rostoc conglomerate, for the Light Tactical Aircraft program. It is expected to make its maiden flight in 2023 with fielding starting in 2026.
A teaser promotional video released by Rostoc prior to the unveiling of the new jet featured a collection of multinational pilots, indicating that Russia could be looking at exporting the new fighter overseas, but Russia’s specific plans for the jet remain unclear.
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