Checkmate: Russia’s Newest Jet Fighter


Russia claims it has a new stealth fighter jet specifically designed to counter the US F-35. They call it “Checkmate.” A prototype of the new jet was unveiled at the MAKS 2021 Air Show in Moscow on Tuesday. They brag that the jet can fly supersonic longer than the F-35, use less fuel, and be cost effective both to purchase and maintain. It will start flying in 2023, and deliveries will begin in 2027. Russia plans to produce 300 of them in 2026. (Fox)

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Checkmate- Russia’s new no longer secret stealth aircraft

Whether or not ”Checkmate” will live up to its billing as a low cost rival to the F-35 remains to be seen. The plane is developed by Sukhoi. The prototype at the Air Show was not a flight-ready aircraft, just a mock up, according to experts who saw that it lacked certain parts. Russia claims it will cost between $25M and $30M, while the F-35 (so far) has been upwards of $78M. They expect buyers from Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East. Can it deliver at such a low cost or is it too good to be true?

The stealth fighter reportedly can be converted to a two-seat model or an unmanned model. It is a single engine aircraft, and can carry over 16,000 pounds of armament.

And for those who understand all that alphabet soup, the jet also has:

Russia bills the Checkmate as a plane that is capable of sustained supersonic flight, where the F-35 only has 50 seconds of that capability. It has a top speed of 1,180 MPH, and it’s range is listed as 1,864 miles. All of that is hypothetical at this point, since the plane viewed at the MAKS Air Show is only a prototype.

The Checkmate, like the F-35, can share data in the air with other fighter jets. The new fighter will also come in an unmanned version, opening up the possibility that one manned Checkmate might control several unmanned versions in battle. UAC promises three “configurations”—basic, medium, and full—though it’s not clear what any of that means. The fighter will feature a streamlined maintenance system.

The Checkmate’s development schedule, from dummy mockup to deliveries of combat-ready planes in just 6 years, is very ambitious. But Sukhoi appears to be leveraging much of its experience in developing the Su-57, so that will be a big help. The company could also be using the same digital engineering techniques that allowed the U.S. Air Force to design and fly its own secret new fighter jet in just one year. That plane, the Next Generation Air Dominance Fighter (NGAD), is still years from becoming a frontline fighter.

Popular Mechanics

Can Russia actually deliver on their new toy? Or will it fall victim to the same cost issues that befell the F-35? Checkmate will either rival the F-35 or it won’t be even close.


Featured photo: screenshot via Fox

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