After a week of promoting teasers for a new ‘mystery’ fighter called the Checkmate, Russia formally unveiled the lightweight stealth fighter on Tuesday. President Vladimir Putin inspected a mock-up of the Checkmate fighter on the opening day of the MAKS-2021 International Aviation and Space Salon on Tuesday.
Being developed by the Sukhoi design bureau, the Checkmate has not received a formal aircraft designation, yet. The Checkmate is lighter than the Sukhoi Su-57 twin-engine fighter and has a single engine.
Sukhoi claimed the prototype of Checkmate will make its maiden flight in 2023 and deliveries could start by 2026. Sukhoi also claims the new design could have an unmanned version. Reports said the new aircraft will be able to carry up to 7.5 tonnes of weapons in internal weapons bays and on external hardpoints.
Speaking on the sidelines of MAKS, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov was quoted by Zvezda TV, a media outlet controlled by the Russian ministry of defence, as saying that the Checkmate would primarily be intended for export.
Borisov told Zvezda TV, “First of all, it will indeed be oriented towards African countries, India and Vietnam. The demand for these aircraft is quite high, it is estimated at least 300 aircraft in the near future.”
Borisov also conceded that the export success of the new aircraft would depend on how quickly its development was completed.
The head of Russia’s main arms export conglomerate Rostec, Sergey Chemezov also mentioned India as being a prospective buyer.