The next fighter to be added to Russia’s arsenal is going to weigh less than 18 tons and be Mach 2 capable. It is going to be a light, nimble stealth jet with a single engine and thrust-to-weight ratio greater than 1, according to an insider from Russian state corporation Rostec, quoted by news agency TASS.

The platform will feature thrust vectoring, supermaneuverability and stealth. It is also going to be optionally manned, meaning that the jet will be capable of performing missions while being remotely controlled. 

No further information on the timeline or the costs of the project has been revealed.

The plans to develop a light counterpart to the Sukhoi Su-57 were first announced in 2017 by Russian industry and trade minister Denis Manturov. In December 2020 the head of Rostec Sergei Chemezov revealed that Sukhoi was working on such an aircraft, but no further information was disclosed.

In the same month, a model of an unknown single-engine fighter jet was noticed in a photo of Chemezov’s desk, speculated to show the nose section of the aircraft in development. 

In concept, the new aircraft seems to be similar to Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning II and Shenyang FC-31 Gyrfalcon, both of which were conceived as lighter counterparts to the F-22 and J-20 respectively. If the aforementioned photos really show the model of the aircraft, the jet would resemble the Boeing X-32 which lost to the X-35 (the prototype of the F-35) in the Joint Strike Fighter competition.

According to Chemezov, the aircraft was not yet ordered by the military. Sukhoi, a subsidiary of Rostec, is developing it without any funds from the state budget and hopes to attract the attention of both the Russian Air Force and foreign investors.

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