The ongoing airshow in Dubai marked the first time Russia's much-acclaimed fifth-generation fighter, dubbed 'Checkmate' debuted outside Russian soil and has instantly made news after reports emerged that the aircraft's prototypes are already under construction, Aviation Week reported.
Earlier in July, Russian aircraft manufacturer Rostec had unveiled the 'Checkmate' aircraft was touted as an F-35 competitor. With the capabilities of a fifth-generation fighter but only a single jet engine powering the flight, the light tactical aircraft is likely to be a pocket-friendly option for countries. Pushing their adoption would be this update that shows that the unveiling was more of a technology demonstrator and not just a mockup built at a true scale.
Aviation Week further reported that the host country of the Air Show, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was one of the company's customers. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed way back in 2017 where UAE had agreed to jointly develop the fifth-generation aircraft. Now, that the prototypes are being built, the country could also be the first to acquire them. Yuri Slyusar, the CEO of the United Aircraft Corp (UAC), a Rostec subsidiary that will manufacture Checkmate said that a more definite outcome could come as early as the culmination of the air show.
The UAC claims that the aircraft has advanced radars and avionics but also boasts of an open architecture that allows customizations to be built in as per buyers' needs. Back in July, we had reported that the aircraft could cost around $30 million a piece but would be available starting from 2026. The UAC has clearly expedited the production process amidst reports that Russian forces could also be amongst the buyers of the aircraft.
The Drive reported that the Russian Ministry of Defence and Rostec has held discussions about procuring these aircraft, however, not in their current versions. Russian forces are keen on an unmanned version of the aircraft.
While that might be a bit further down the line, the Dubai Air Show also featured the Su-57s, a twin-engine fighter aircraft, Mi-28, Ka-52 attack helicopters, and new attack drones from the Russian defense manufacturers, RT reported.