Has Sukhoi eclipsed US and Chinese rivals with its new Checkmate fighter?

Sukhoi new fighter jet checkmates USA's F-35 and China's FC-31

US and Chinese experts believe that the Sukhoi Checkmate aircraft will become competition to their F-35 and FC-31 fighter jets in the arms market.

Can The Checkmate outstrip F-35 and FC-31?

UAC Sukhoi unveiled a new fifth-generation fighter called The Checkmate (Su-75) at MAKS-2021 International Aviation and Space Airshow in Zhukovsky near Moscow.

This is a single-engine aircraft with a maximum speed from Mach 1.8 to Mach 2, a flight range of 3000 km and a payload of 7400 kg.

Rostec Corporation describes the aircraft as a light single-engine fighter jet that implements "innovative solutions", including artificial intelligence.

According to the manufacturer, the jet can attack up to six targets "even in the presence of strong electronic interference."

The twin fin fuselage of the aircraft is made with the use of stealth technologies. The fighter is capable of carrying both air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons, such as:

  • air-to-air missiles with infrared and radar guidance,
  • air-to-ground missiles,
  • anti-ship missiles, guided and unguided bombs and unguided rockets.

The Checkmate was designed as a short takeoff and landing fighter that makes it possible to use it on aircraft carriers. The aircraft will be equipped with:

  • active phased array radar,
  • optical and electronic reconnaissance equipment,
  • as well as electronic warfare equipment.

With a price tag of $25-30 million, the new fighter will be able to transport UAVs and launch them while flying. The aircraft is capable of destroying foreign "fifth generation aircraft" and "is designed to withstand sixth generation systems that may appear in the coming decades." An unmanned version of the aircraft is under development as well.

The plane is expected to take off in 2023, whereas the first batch of them is to be ready in 2026. Russia plans to produce 300 of these aircraft within 15 years after the start of serial production.

"If we compare it with the American F-35 fighter, its closest analogue, The Checkmate is a different aircraft. It has a greater speed, greater range, greater payload. It has a much better stealthiness. I would not say that the comparison with any other aircraft is correct." It has a unique aerodynamic design," said Alexei Bulatov, Deputy Chief Designer of The Checkmate.

The Global Times, a Chinese publication, in an article titled Could Russia's newly unveiled Checkmate rival China's FC-31 in global market? wrote that the Russian fighter appears to be competitive with the American F-35 in the international arms market.

"Judging from the aerodynamic design, the Checkmate seems to have a superior stealth capability to the Su-57, allowing it to better avoid radar detection," the newspaper said with reference to Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert.

In his opinion, Checkmate's entry into the market may also affect the export of Chinese fighters, such as the FC-31, but to achieve this goal, Russian aircraft manufacturers must act quickly, because the Chinese are "one step ahead."

F-35 is a Mercedes, but many are happy with a Hyundai — Su-75

Air Force Magazine compares the new Russian fighter with Lockheed Martin's F-35. In terms of maximum overloads when making a turn, the Su-75 gives 8G, and the F-35A — 9G, but series B and C — 7.5G.

As for the engine thrust, Russian officials alluded to 32,000 pounds, the publication pointed out, and the F135 engine of the F-35 develops a thrust of about 40,000 pounds.

According to Popular Mechanics, it is too early to say whether the Checkmate could outstrip the F-35.

"The F-35 is the equivalent of a Mercedes Benz, but there are plenty of countries that would be perfectly happy to have a Hyundai," the publication said.

In other words, this is a great alternative for the countries that cannot purchase the F-35 Lightning II for budgetary or political reasons.

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Author`s name Lyuba Lulko
Editor Dmitry Sudakov