Russia’s 5th-Gen Stealth Fighter ‘Su-75 Checkmate’ To Start Flight Testing By 2024; Looks To Compete With Gripen, F-35A

With plans to start flight tests as early as 2024, Russia has declared its intention to construct four prototypes of the cutting-edge Su-75 Checkmate single-engine, fifth-generation fighter jet, Russian state media reported. 

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The Sukhoi Aircraft Company, a division of United Aircraft Corporation, debuted its latest domestic single-engine fighter, the Checkmate, at the MAKS 2021 international airshow, which took place in the suburban town of Zhukovsky outside Moscow.   

On August 16, the CEO of United Aircraft Corporation, a division of the state-owned Rostec, spoke to TASS about their plans at the Army 2022 international military-technical forum. 

The Russian Defense Ministry is hosting the Army 2022 international military-technical forum from August 15 to 21 at the Patriot Park near Moscow, at the Alabino practice range and the Kubinka airfield, as well as in all of Russia’s Military Districts, in the Northern Fleet, and in more than 30 Russian regions.

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CEO Yury Slyusar described the company’s strategies while revealing that the Checkmate project uses cutting-edge supercomputer technologies. Due to this, the company can significantly shorten the prototype construction period and start the flight tests as early as 2024. 

“Now preparations have been launched for the production of two prototypes. In all, we plan to build four prototypes,” the chief executive said. The fighter’s international debut took place at the Dubai Airshow 2021 in the United Arab Emirates. The aircraft is an offshoot of the fifth-generation Su-57 fighter. 

According to Slyusar, foreign clients specified their needs for the Su-75 Checkmate fighter, and then work was done to optimize the aircraft. Since the project was introduced at the MAKS 2021 airshow, efforts have been made to gather feedback from prospective customers. 

File Image: Su-57-& Su-75 (Checkmate)

The Chief executive noted that in addition to the different requirements of the customers, work has also been done to reduce costs, analyze technical options, and significantly improve the competitive edge and commercial attractiveness of the domestic single-engine jet. 

The Checkmate project has undergone modifications, and the date of the fighter’s first flight has changed. He said that the United Aircraft Corporation plans to test the fighter in 2024. 

Checkmate’s Unmanned Version

The Su-75 is predominantly being developed as an export model. The chief executive explained that the plane’s modular design and a few optional features allow it to utilize the best 5th generation technologies.

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The CEO also disclosed information regarding Checkmate’s unmanned variant. The development of the base single-seat fighter will move forward concurrently with the development of the unmanned Checkmate, Slyusar said. 

He noted that “the work on the Checkmate’s unmanned version has been ongoing since the early stages of designing. The unmanned version can be created alongside the single-seat airplane.

The potential for the unmanned aircraft’s flight tests will be developed as part of the outpacing work on the manned version.” 

The CEO said that even the baseline single-seat aircraft includes technical innovations that will speed up the development of the unmanned version. This single-seat fighter jet will be armed with “an inboard compartment for airborne air-to-air and air-to-surface armaments.”

The fighter will have a payload of more than seven tones and be able to attack up to six targets simultaneously. The Checkmate fighter will have a 3,000 km operating range and be able to fly at Mach 1.8 (1.8 times the speed of sound). The aircraft will be equipped with a very effective engine. 

The Su-75 Checkmate (Rostec image)

In May 2022, Rostec CEO Sergei Chemezov revealed that Moscow will begin mass producing the fifth-generation combat fighter jet Checkmate in 2027. 

Dmitry Shugayev, director of the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, previously said the Russian Checkmate could be sold in the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Asia, potentially boosting Russian revenues in the face of severe Western sanctions.

The new combat aircraft’s low cost will give it a competitive edge over other single-engine fighters. The single-engine fighter jets are more affordable and better suited to light fighter aviation tasks. 

The latest stealth fighter from Russia is anticipated to compete against the American F-35A Lightning II and the Swedish JAS-39 Gripen. The Checkmate incorporates cutting-edge technology, such as its open architecture configuration to meet the customer’s needs and special artificial intelligence techniques.