Russian aircraft manufacturers unveiled a prototype stealth fighter dubbed “Checkmate” for the 68-year-old leader at the MAKS-2021 International Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky ahead of its official unveiling later in the day, according to a statement from Rostec, the state-owned military giant responsible for exporting Russian technology.
The head of Rostec, Sergey Chemezov, and the general manager of United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), Yury Slyusar, presented the fighter plane to Putin at the exhibition pavilion of the Sukhoi company.
The prototype of the fifth-generation light single-engine fighter aircraft is unique and has not been developed before in Russia, according to a presentation by the state-owned company UAC.
A UAC press release said the fighter jet “combines innovative solutions and technologies” and has “poor visibility and high flight performance.”
The company’s head, Slyusar, also praised the aircraft’s features on Russian state television, describing the aircraft as “unique in their class” and adding that they “have a combat radius of 1,500 kilometers, the largest thrust-to-weight ratio, shortened take-off and landing, more than 7 tons of warhead, which is an all-time record for aircraft of this class.”
The first maiden flight is expected in 2023, Russian state media reported, citing a presentation shown to the Russian president.
UAC also expects delivery of the new single-engine fighter to begin in 2026.
Earlier in the day, Putin praised the Russian aviation industry in a speech at the opening of the air show.
“What we see today in Zhukovsky clearly shows that Russian aviation has great development potential, and our aircraft industry continues to create new competitive aircraft,” he said.
Dmitry Stefanovich, Research Fellow at the Center for International Security, Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO RAS) in Moscow, told CNN the focus of the Sukhoi fighter jet will likely be on exports and military-technical cooperation with other countries. .
“This is a groundbreaking offering on the market,” Stefanovich said. “It has been a long time since Russia demonstrated single-engine combat aircraft. There have been no new Russian light combat aircraft on the market for a long time. And no fifth generation as such.”
According to Stefanovich, countries like the UAE, Argentina, Vietnam and India could be the first in line to sign contracts with Russia for the new jet.
On Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that it had tested its Tsirkon hypersonic missile from the frigate Admiral Grigorovich in the White Sea and hit a land target in the Barents Sea more than 200 miles away.
“This is hardly a coincidence,” Stefanovich said. “Russia shows in practice that it remains a very serious force in the development and production of advanced missile systems.”