Russian state aircraft manufacturer Rostec unveiled a fifth-generation fighter jet at the MAKS-2021 International Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky, a couple of hours drive from the capital city of Moscow. The aircraft, dubbed as 'Checkmate' and pegged as a competitor to the F-35 aircraft, was unveiled after a local media campaign, targeted to increase public interest in the unveiling.
Designed by Sukhoi, the fighter has a single engine and is classified as a Light Tactical Aircraft. However, the advanced onboard instruments and the technical capabilities of the aircraft ensure that it finds a place under the fifth generation of fighter jets, competing with the USAF's F-22 Raptor, Chinese Chengdu J-20, and Russia's own Sukhoi Su-57. All the aforementioned aircraft are twin-engine jets, making the single-engine, Checkmate, a pocket-friendly option for nations interested in acquiring advanced fighter jets.
While the finer details of the aircraft were not released, Rostec claims that the aircraft will be capable of hitting Mach 2 (two times the speed of sound), have a range of 1800 miles (3000 km), and a payload capacity of 16,300 pounds (7400 kg or seven tons), ABC News reported.
The aircraft is also capable of hitting six targets at once and has low radar visibility, along with a high thrust-to-weight ratio offering shortened take-off and landing while also carrying advanced weapons. The pilots will be assisted with artificial intelligence while incorporating features of previous designs to reduce costs. In the future, the manufacturer will introduce a pilotless version of the aircraft as well.
Each aircraft is expected to be priced at US$ 25-30 million, while the manufacturer will also be accommodative of customer needs. At prices, seven times lower than the F-35s, Russia expects countries in Latin America, Middle East, and Asia to procure place orders for 300 aircraft in the coming days. First orders are expected to be delivered starting 2026.
CNN reported that the Checkmate is expected to put Russia back on the exporter's list of fighter jets after lagging for many years. The country remains in contention as a developer of advanced missiles, after testing its hypersonic cruise missile, Tsirkon, recently.