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Russia’s new Stealth Fighter Revealed – The Checkmate


On Tuesday Morning, Russian aircraft manufacturer UAC unveiled the nation’s newest stealth fighter, the LTA Checkmate, at the MAKS air show at Ramenskoye airfield near Moscow. While information about this new 5th generation platform has steadily made its way to the media in recent months and some images even found their way onto the internet last week, we now have the most complete vision of this budget-friendly entrant into the stealth competition yet.

Russian state corporation Rostec, which includes Sukhoi and other aircraft makers, has advertised the new plane under the tag Checkmate, an approach apparently intended to underline its superior characteristics. It said the new warplane belongs to the so-called fifth generation of fighter jets, a definition that assumes stealth characteristics and a capability to cruise at supersonic speed, among other advanced features.

Rostec said the new design includes artificial intelligence features to assist the pilot and other innovative technologies. It said the jet was designed to reduce service costs and to be easily adapted to varying customer needs. The prospective Russian fighter jet seems to be intended to compete with the U.S. F-35 Lightning II fighter, which entered service in 2015.

F-35 Lightning II

Rostec ran an aggressive advertising campaign in the days before the air show, publishing a picture of the new fighter hidden under a black tarpaulin with “Wanna see me naked?” written under it. It also posted a video featuring adulatory customers from India, the United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Vietnam and other countries, reflecting export hopes.

Plane spotters flocked to Zhukovsky last week to take pictures of the new plane as it was being taxied to a parking spot across the giant airfield which has served as the country’s top military aircraft test facility since Cold War times.

The Kremlin has made modernization of the country’s arsenals a key priority amid tensions with the West that followed Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. It also has strongly encouraged the development of new passenger jets to compete with planes built by American aircraft maker Boeing and Europe's Airbus that currently account for the bulk of Russian carriers' fleets.

Russia's airliner programs have encountered delays amid Western sanctions that hampered imports of Western engines and other key components. But the country managed to produce a new engine for the new MS-21 passenger plane, which also was displayed at the show in Zhukovsky.

“What we saw in Zhukovsky today demonstrates that the Russian aviation has a big potential for development and our aircraft making industries continue to create new competitive aircraft designs,” Vladimir Putin said in a speech at the show opening.

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