Sukhoi shows off Checkmate 5th-Gen fighter to compete with F-35
At this year's MAKS-21 air show outside Moscow, Sukhoi unveiled a mock-up of its latest fifth-generation fighter aircraft. Called the Checkmate SU-75, it is designed as an "inexpensive" rival to the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.
A subsidiary of the United Aircraft Corporation, Sukhoi is developing the Checkmate primarily as an export aircraft to take on the F-35 in the marketplace. For all its advanced capabilities, the F-35 comes with an eye-watering price per plane of US$80 million, so a fighter craft like the Checkmate, with an initial estimated cost of US$30 million, could be attractive to more budget-conscious air forces.
According to Sukhoi, the Checkmate is a stealthy, delta-wing light tactical fighter notable for its canted vertical tails and an internal weapons bay with room for five air-to-air missiles and an auto-cannon. It's also equipped with a multiband passive detection system, improved stealth capability, an electronic warfare system, and an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, which uses signal emissions across a wider range of frequencies to make detecting the radar signal against background noise more difficult.
Unusual for a Russian fighter, the Checkmate has a single vectored-thrust engine, which appears to be a Saturn Izdeliye 30 or some other Saturn AL41F turbofan derivative. Fed by a single air inlet under the fuselage, it can power the fighter at sustained supersonic speeds of up to Mach 1.8 (1,160 knots, 1,335 mph, 2,149 km/h) with turns at up to 8 g, and a range of over 2,800 km (1,740 miles). There is also an auxiliary power plant to run the onboard systems.
The Checkmate can be deployed in high-mountain altitudes, in a wide range of climatic conditions and from shorter runways thanks to a high thrust-to-weight ratio. It can carry a payload of 7,400 kg (16,000 lb). With its open-architecture design, it's supposed to need fewer ground crew and less special ground equipment. It also has an in-built diagnostic and analytics system to monitor the aircraft and provide maintenance alerts.
In the cockpit, an AI system acts as a virtual co-pilot that monitors the aircraft during flight preparations and informs the pilot when it's ready for takeoff. In combat situations, the AI can take over flight operations while the pilot concentrates on engaging the threat.
The Checkmate is scheduled to begin flight testing in 2023, with the first of 300 production airframes rolling out by 2027. An unmanned variant is reportedly in development, a two-seat version can be developed if requested, and a carrier-based version is also under consideration.
Because of the economic problems that the Russian aerospace sector has been suffering under, if this is an export aircraft, the Checkmate project might not get the funding to complete development unless Sukhoi can nail down some serious export orders in the near future.
The video below is the English language unveiling of the Checkmate.