TYUMEN, September 17. /TASS/. Russia’s Defense Ministry may consider the purchase of single-engine Checkmate fighters under a future state program for armaments, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov told the media on the sidelines of the Tyumen Oil and Gas Forum.
"Under a future state program for armaments the Defense Ministry and the Aerospace Force may consider the possibility of purchasing this fighter," Borisov said. "This is a major export potential factor. Foreign customers are always keen to know if the country’s national armed forces use the military technologies that are on offer for export."
Borisov said that both the Defense Ministry and the Aerospace Force had been "historically cautious" about single-engine fighters, because in their opinion twin-engine ones were more reliable. Nevertheless single-engine fighters are widely spread in the world.
"As far as I know, the beginning of flight tests is scheduled for 2023. Mass production (on the condition of sufficient demand) may begin in 2025-2026. This deadline is quite realistic," Borisov said. "Otherwise, we will be unable to enter this market where US and Chinese (single-engine) models already rule the roost. This plan has a very good potential and good prospects for taking a certain niche. Already now it has potential buyers. There are two essential yardsticks - prompt emergence on the market and a reasonable price - that will enable it to take a worthy place," he said.
Borisov added that the plane possessed a number of features matching the parameters of fifth generation fighters, such as intra-fuselage hardpoints.
The fighter-jet Checkmate was for the first time presented at the MAKS air show last July. It is positioned as an alternative to the United States’ FA-35A Lightning II and Sweden’s JAS-39 Gripen. Checkmate’s potential market is estimated at 300 pieces. Alongside the domestic market the plane may be addressed to countries in Africa, India and Vietnam. The plane, likely to be indexed Sukhoi-75, will be assembled at a plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur.
Checkmate boasts stealth features and is equipped with an intra-fuselage compartment for air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles (a payload of over seven tonnes). The single-engine supersonic Mach 1.8 fighter has a combat range, 3,000 kilometers and is capable of hitting up to six targets simultaneously.