The Russian CheckMate, a commercial and operational threat for Europe

The teasing campaign which preceded the official presentation of the new 5th generation light fighter of the Russian Sukhoi had created an obvious excitement on the part of all observers of the global defense aviation industry. They were not disappointed, the announcements made by Sergei Chemezov, the CEO of Rostec, were so astounding, and so much the Checkmate, since it seems that this is indeed its operational name, is designed to impose itself in the air as in international competitions in the years to come. And as long as the announcements made yesterday in Moscow actually materialize during the testing phase which must take place between 2023 and 2025 for entry into production from 2026, Sukhoi's new device could well not only strengthen in a way the Russian aeronautics industry and potentially the air forces of many countries, but also drastically reduce the potential markets for European aircraft such as the Rafale, the Typhoon and the Gripen, on the international scene.

Let's start at the beginning, namely the announced performance of the Checkmate. Remember that these are announcements and that all this will have to be confirmed during trials and international competitions. Nevertheless, with a maximum mass of 18 tonnes at takeoff, the aircraft falls into the category of multi-purpose single-engine fighters, such as the F16, Gripen and Mirage 2000. But its range of 1400 km in smooth configuration (and much more with additional cans), and its carrying capacity of more than 7 tons, positions it more in the category of medium fighters, like the Rafale, the Typhoon, the Super Hornet and the F35A. Its Izd reactor. 30 producing a thrust with post-combustion of 18 tons, and 12 tons dry, the device will permanently have a potential thrust-weight ratio greater than or equal to 1, just like el Su-57 from which it uses many technologies, including the reactor. Its stealth configuration is not as extensive as that of the American F35, again like the Su-57, but remains significant, and according to Rostec, would have been designed to be effective on several frequency bands, and not only on the bands. X and S like Lockheed-Martin's plane. It should be noted that the configuration of the rear stabilizer with tailerons effectively offers better stealth against low-frequency radars, by reducing the effects of resonance.

The Chekmate has, like the Su-57, two side compartments under the apex of the wing, to receive, very probably, a self-defense missile at short range.

On the other hand, and unlike its Western counterparts, the Checkmate has a vectorial thrust giving it significant short take-off and landing capabilities, a criterion which is becoming more and more important as the risks of high intensity increases, and that air bases will most certainly be among the priority targets of the opposing air force and artillery. In fact, the device will very probably be derived in an on-board naval version, with the most interesting operational potential for aircraft carriers without catapults. This same vectorial thrust will give it great agility, it suffices to observe the flight demonstrations of the Su-57, which has the same configuration, to be convinced, while allowing the aircraft to reach Mach 1.8. and to sustain supersonic flight over time, without the term “super-cruise” being used for all that during the official presentation. That said, with 12 tons of dry thrust for a mass of less than 18 tons, we can imagine that this capacity is well within the reach of the Checkmate.

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