The sleek new fighter jet is intended to rival Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, based on technology from its Su-57 fighter, Sukhoi has dubbed the new fighter “Checkmate.” A prototype of the Checkmate fighter was the opening act for the MAKS-2021 air show at Zhukovsky Airport southeast of Moscow, which runs from July 20-25.
The Light Tactical Aircraft (LTA) designation and the configuration show that this is clearly a concept aimed at producing a relatively cheap and cheerful, somewhat low observable light fighter, primarily for the export market.
The relatively compact size and engine/intake placement will limit the space available for internal weapon bays. An educated guess would be of two IR dogfight missiles in the small side-mounted bays ahead of the main landing gear, and space for 2-4 R-77 class BVR missiles in a ventral bay. However, larger air-to-air and air-to-ground ordinance would likely have to be carried externally. It is also likely to have a modest range with internal fuel due to the competing demands for landing gear housing, weapons bays and avionics within a compact airframe.
As with the Su-57, the LTA features an Infra-Red Scan and Track (IRST) sensor embedded at the junction between the forward canopy and the nose, and will likely feature an active electronically scanned array (AESA) type radar in the nose. The latter, however, will be limited in size due to the narrow and aggressively tapered nose profile.
One particularly notable feature is the lack of conventional elevators. Instead, the LTA has canted stabilisers which are more vertical than I would have expected if a ruddervator (or V-Tail) configuration was intended to provide primary pitch authority. Instead, it would appear that pitch authority will be provided by a combination of tailless delta style elevon control and at least 2D thrust-vectoring. This suggests to me that the LTA has a lessened design emphasis on supermanoeuvrability than previous Russian fighter designs reported defence website HushKit (a more detailed report is available here).
The fighter jet features an unusually pointy nose and an engine intake below the cockpit. The Checkmate also has an internal weapons bay designed to preserve its anti-radar shaping and can carry both air-to-air and air-to-ground ordnance, including both infrared- and radar-guided air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground and anti-ship missiles, guided and unguided bombs, and unguided rockets.
And though Russia said the aircraft features a gun, we don’t know whether the gun is mounted internally or externally.