Russia presents Checkmate at Dubai, takes shots at F-35 and Bayraktar


Russian state conglomerate Rostec has showcased its latest project, the Sukhoi Checkmate fighter jet, at the Dubai Airshow 2021. 

The company also published a detailed interactive press release and a video, providing a glimpse into the specifications of the jet.

The video portrays an officer of a fictional middle-Eastern air force (referred to as ‘Air Force commander of a foreign country’ in the press release) praising the advantages of the jet, as a video reel of the Checkmate in action plays.

The video shows the Checkmate performing various missions, including locking on the Bayraktar Akinci, an upcoming Turkish combat drone, and the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jet. The pilot of the Checkmate presses the trigger, opening fire at both aircraft. 

Later a sequence of the Checkmate overflying a row of F-4 Phantom and F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets plays, as the row gets obscured by smoke, seemingly being either bombed or dusted by the exhaust of the Russian fighter. Currently, Greece, Turkey and South Korea are the only countries that operate both types of American fighter jets.

The promotional video also includes a sequence where an actor opens an ammunition box only to find it empty, and shows a tablet displaying an error which reads “Please renew your subscription”. The segment can be interpreted as poking fun at the F-35, as the aircraft is often criticized as being over reliant on the monitoring of its manufacturer.

An interactive press release, published on the webpage of Russia’s state news agency TASS, presents a host of new information about the jet, including its specifications and manufacturer’s outlook on the possible sales.

According to the release, the wingspan of the Checkmate is approximately 11.8 meters (38.7 feet), and the length is approximately 17.5 meters (57.4 feet). Thus, it is larger than other single-engine fighter jets, such as the F-35, the F-16 and the JAS 39 Gripen, and is very similar in its dimensions to the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet (wingspan 12.3 meters / 40.4 feet, length 17.1 meters / 56 feet).

The release also specifies that the jet’s maximum range of 2,800 kilometers (1.740 miles) can be reached without the addition of drop tanks, and that the aircraft is going to have 11 hardpoints: five in internal weapon bays and four on external pylons.

In addition to that, a render of an unmanned version of the jet is shown in the press release and in the video, hinting at the possibility of using the drone Checkmate as a loyal wingman – an autonomous companion for manned fighter jets.

“The Checkmate can be built in a base one-seat version, a two-seat version, an optionally manned version and an unmanned version,” the press release reads.

The release also claims that the work on the jet started in 2016, confirming earlier observations that the project may have had its roots in LFI (light frontline fighter) and PLIB (prospective light fighter-bomber) projects, outlined in the documents of the united Aircraft Corporation (UAC), a subsidiary of Rostec.

Checkmate uav
Unmanned version of the Checkmate (Image: Rostec)

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