Russia unveils its new stealth fighter "Checkmate"

The Russian fighter is emerging as a direct competitor to the US F-35 fighter as the US begins to market its new model, the F-35 II
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AP/ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICEHNKO  -   Russia unveiled a prototype of its future fighter jet at Tuesday's air show

Russia has unveiled at the MAKS-2021 International Aviation and Space Exhibition its latest light combat aircraft, a stealth fighter dubbed "Jaque Mate", which promises to officially compete with the US F-35 fighter model. The aircraft, designed by the Russian company Sukhoi, is distinguished from the F-35 by its low cost compared to its US competitor. It also has low radar detectability, which makes it more difficult to detect in airspace.

Sukhoi's new fighter is a fifth-generation single-seat, single-engine fighter. In this line, the "Checkmate" is a light combat aviation project with the capability of being a new-generation multi-role fighter that incorporates advanced technical solutions but adopted to the new model, after having been developed on aircraft such as the Su-57 Felon or the MiG-35 Fulcrum.

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REUTERS/TATYANA MAKEYEVA - Checkmate, Sukhoi's new fifth-generation stealth fighter, during an opening ceremony of the MAKS 2021 air show in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow, Russia, 20 July 2021.

The model has been unveiled for the first time at the 2021 International Air and Space Exhibition in the Russian city of Zhukovsky, near Moscow. However, the presentation did not include any flights as the first take-off is expected to take place in 2023, three years before commercialisation is expected to begin in 2026. Alongside this, it has been announced that the price of the new Russian fighter jet is expected to be in the region of $25-30 million.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was able to inspect and approve the fighter before it was officially unveiled, defence technology giant Rostec has confirmed. The technology industry describes the aircraft as a light fighter that incorporates "innovative solutions" including artificial intelligence. Thus, the plane is equipped with artificial intelligence algorithms, allowing pilots to focus solely on their aviation tasks

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REUTERS/TATYANA MAKEYEVA - S-400 missile air defence systems on Tverskaya Street in central Moscow, Russia 29 April 2019.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov stressed that 300 units of the new aircraft are being demanded by buyers from India, Vietnam and some African countries. In this regard, Putin stated that "the Russian aviation industry has a huge development potential and continues to build new competitive aircraft".

In this vein, Russia continues to develop weapons that it claims 'could evade existing defence systems', such as the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile and Burevestnik missile development projects. 

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PHOTO/ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/SPUTNIK/KREMLIN - Russian President Vladimir Putin at the International Aviation and Space Exhibition MAKS-2021 in Zhukovsky.

In addition to the unveiling of the new fighter, Russia and Turkey are completing bilateral negotiations on the second delivery of a second batch of the S-400 air defence system to Ankara, Alexander Mkhiev, head of Russia's state-owned Rosoboronesport military industries company, has said. Speaking at the opening of the International Air Show, Mkhiev said: "So far, final consultations are underway, as well as establishing the financial model for financing the project and shaping the new technology programme.

This second supply follows the deal signed between Moscow and Ankara agreeing to supply S-400 missiles in December 2017, under which Turkey obtained a loan from Russia to partially finance the purchase of the S-400s, instead of acquiring the US Parriot missiles, prompting the US to impose sanctions on Turkey to forgo the purchase of more missiles of this model. 

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REUTERS/TATYANA MAKEYEVA - Sukhoi's new fifth-generation stealth fighter

However, following Russia's refusal and its decision to continue procuring S-400 models, Washington prevented the issuance of any arms export licences to the Turkish government agency, resulting in a halt to the purchase of F-35 aircraft. As a result, Turkey has only F-16s and has embarked on an arms race to develop its home-grown fighter, the TF-X (Turkish Force Experimental), an aircraft designed for an air-to-air role but not capable enough to compete with the F-35. For its part, Turkey, like Russia, hopes to be able to give the green light to the TF-X in 2023, coinciding with the centenary of the Turkish state.

Dmitry Shugaev, head of Russia's Federal Agency for Military-Technical Cooperation, said that Moscow is ready to negotiate with Turkey on the purchase of S-35 and S-37 fighters, should Ankara decide to buy them. "If Ankara decides to buy these aircraft, we are ready to conduct appropriate negotiations with our Turkish colleagues," he said.