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Sukhoi "Su-75" Checkmate
LTS - Light Tactical Aircraft

The Sukhoi company has initiated the development of a Light Tactical Aircraft [Legkij Takticheskie Samolyet]. At the MAKS-2021 air show, journalists were presented with a new lightweight single-engine Checkmate fighter. Reportedly, it will be single-engine, have supersonic speed, low radar signature and super-maneuverability. The new aircraft would seem to be a Russian counterpart to the single engine American F-35, and the Chinese FC-31 twinjet. The Checkmate uses some of the technology developed for the Su-57 project, including the powerplant, but has several distinctive features, like its diverterless air inlet and V-tail control surfaces. The supersonic warplane can carry a payload of up to 7 tons in its internal weapons bay and has a range of 3,000km, according to designers.

Thus far, all that has been seen looked like a trade show mockup. The Sukhoi Su-75 Checkmate, a light single-engine cousin of Russia’s advanced Su-57 fighter jet, will go into production sometime in 2027, the head of state-owned Rostec said on 18 May 2022. The deadline was revealed by Sergey Chemezov during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin. He detailed the progress of several leading Russian aviation projects, including the Checkmate. The initial operational capability around 2030.

The first flight of the new Checkmate light single-engine fighter will take place in 2023. This was announced 20 July 2021 by the head of the UAC Yuri Slyusar at the presentation of the aircraft at the MAKS-2021 air show. Deputy Chief Designer of Checkmate Alexey Bulatov, the first flight will be performed by the machine presented at MAKS-2021. "There is a sample in front of you - this is not just a model, it is not just a demonstrator. It is an aircraft that will take off into the air. Of course, work is needed to prepare it for flight. In less than a year, we will have completed static tests of the aircraft that will allow us to start organizing the first flight, "Bulatov added.

The exact nature of the object on display at MAKS-2021 was unclear. Unlike the Franco-German Future Combat Air System and British Tempest stealth concepts displayed in recent years, it was clearly more than simply a fiberglass trade show model. But the Checkmate had a singularly unfinished stitched together look about it, with some portions looking like flight hardware, and others looking rather like components of a fiberglass trade show model. For a stealth aircraft, the design and finish was singularly un-stealthy. Basis stealth features expected of Western low-observable aircraft, such as serrated door seals for the landing gear and weapons bays, were noticeably absent. The standard of construction was notably crude even by Russian standards, with lines of countersunk bolts in evidence, and violently undulating underbody structural surfaces suggesting the skin had been applied with a ball-peen hammer.

Possibly the object on display was a prototype of some sort, but precisely what design elements were being prototyped was unclear. Possibly a structural test model, or an avionics test bed, or some other design elements in which external stealth features were irrelevant. But a floorshow demonstrator to encourage international customers to buy a finished product, rather than a development effort, it was not. Despite a buildup that would have done a new car from Detroit proud, what was on display was not ready for prime time, and potential customers were probably left with as much doubt as anticipation.

The airframe showcased at MAKS was most probably a mock-up. Interfax repoted 28 July 2021 that the Komsomolsk-on-Amur aircraft plant named after Y. A. Gagarin, a branch of PJSC Sukhoi Company, was assembling a prototype machine for static testing. From the materials for the visit of Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin to the enterprise, it followed that KnAAZ had already begun work on the creation of the first prototype of a fighter for static tests. Such a the static test article is usually the first airframe that takes shape before the first aircraft for flight testing is built.

United Aircraft Corporation Rostec planned to start mass production of a light tactical fighter with one engine in 2026. "In a year, the static tests of the light fighter will be completed <...>. The aircraft will be offered to the customer in serial production from 2026".

The new fighter has a single-engine. At the moment, all combat aircraft used in Russia are equipped with two engines, while single-engine fighters are widespread in the world - these are the American F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-35 Lightning, the Swedish JAS 39 Gripen and the Chinese J-10. The experience of creating single-engine aircraft was also in the Soviet Union - the MiG-21 and MiG-23 created in the 1950s-1960s became one of the most massive fighter productions in history, more than 15,000 of these aircraft were built in total.

Several new aircraft will be created based on the Checkmate modular platform. "It is planned to develop several options, including unmanned and naval versions. Ship, unmanned, two-seater. Adaptation for these versions will be with minimal changes," Slyusar said. Checkmate can operate as part of a group of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles, combined into a single system.

It was supposed to simultaneously start designing two versions of the fighter - manned and unmanned. If everything went well, then it can be argued that with the adoption of manned aircraft and their clone drones, the very concept of performing combat missions should change. A manned fighter will go into battle surrounded by drones of exactly the same configuration. It is the fighter drones that will plot the course, conduct reconnaissance, and protect the manned aircraft from enemy fighters and air defense systems.

The Sukhoi company can create a two-seat modification of the Checkmate single-engine fighter. This was announced on 21 July 2021 by Anastasia Kravchenko, director of the company's information policy and public communications department, on the Russia-24 TV channel as part of the MAKS-2021 air show. “This is the very principle of open architecture that allows us to make both unmanned and manned versions of this aircraft. We can also make naval and two-seat modifications of the Checkmate aircraft,” she said.

The new Checkmate fifth-generation single-engine fighter will be assembled at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur aircraft plant named after Gagarin (KnAAZ), which is a subsidiary of PJSC Sukhoi Company, General Director of the United Aircraft Corporation Yuri Slyusar said 28 July 2021. Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aviation Plant named after Yuri Alekseevich Gagarin is a branch of PJSC "Company" Sukhoi", part of the United Aircraft Corporation. It was founded in 1934, the first reconnaissance aircraft was produced here in 1936. Since then, the company has produced more than 12 thousand military and civil aircraft. the direction of the enterprise's work is the construction of the fifth generation Su-57 aircraft and the Su-35S generation 4 ++ multifunctional fighters.

The designation of the new aircraft was not initially available, though some sources reported “Su-75” based on an aircraft with the tail number “RF-00075” has “75” written in blue on it. While the new aircraft is similar in some respects to the twin-jet Su-57, it is not simply a small-volume “single-engine Su-57”. The canopy is very similar to that of its "big brother" the Su-57 as well as the landing gear. The new aircraft would share many components and systems with the Su-57.

While the number shown on the body of the jet at the MAKS-2021 hangar led to speculation that the Checkmate will be designated Su-75, Sukhoi’s representatives dispelled the rumors, saying that the company considers those numbers “lucky.” As the Russian Aerospace Forces have not yet signed a contract for the new jet, it has not been given an official designation.

The new Russian Checkmate single-engine fighter, created by the state corporation Rostec, will most likely be named the Su-75. This was confirmed by the head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation Denis Manturov in an interview with Ilya Doronov for the RBK TV channel 02 August 2021. "The fact is that this is a working title. Of course, we will eventually come to the traditional nomenclature, to which we are accustomed. Most likely, this is the Su-75. That is, if the base is taken from the Su-57, then the Su-75," he said.

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Page last modified: 25-05-2022 16:36:17 ZULU