Russia’s fighter jet Checkmate will attract 'intense interest' from Middle East, says Rostec

Russia’s fighter jet Checkmate will attract 'intense interest' from Middle East, says Rostec

By Lina Ibrahim 

ABU DHABI, 10th November, 2021 (WAM) -- Russia’s state corporation Rostec will showcase its new stealth fifth-generation fighter aircraft Checkmate for the first time abroad, during the company’s participation at the Dubai Airshow 2021, which will run from 14th-18th November.

The single-engine light tactical aircraft is expected to attract "an intense interest from [the Middle East] region, as it demonstrates obvious advantages", Viktor Kladov, Director for International Cooperation and Regional Policy Department at Rostec said in a statement to the Emirates News Agency (WAM).

Among its advantages are low visibility, a built-in optical location station, airborne electronic security systems, and an Active Phased Array Radar (APAR).

Due to these characteristics, "the aircraft can simultaneously seek and detect targets, survey space and carry out mapping, as well as avoid jamming, and jam the enemy," Kladov said.

The aircraft has an open architecture and is adaptive, and thus can be assembled in several configurations according to the preferences of a potential customer.

"At the same time, Checkmate is characterised by high flight performance at an affordable price and low flight hour cost," he added.

According to the Russian News Agency TASS, Checkmate will cost around US$30 million. It will be capable of flying at Mach 1.8 (1.8 times the speed of sound), have an operating range of 3,000 km, carries a payload of over seven tonnes and be capable of striking up to six targets at a time.

It is expected to take to the skies in 2023, while the serial production will start in 2026. Rostec’s United Aircraft Corporation plans to manufacture around 300 Checkmate fighter jets within the next 15 years.

"As you can see, all these features combined make this aircraft a unique offer on the arms market, and the Middle East is no exception," Kladov went on to say.

Checkmate is not the only product that the Russian company plans to show at the Dubai Airshow 2021.

Among the products is a modernised Ka-226T helicopter, which is the first helicopter in Russia to be manufactured according to digital design documentation.

Rostec’s Russian Helicopters Holding Company, the developer of this product, said in a statement that the mass manufacturing of this upgraded helicopter is scheduled to begin in 2022.

Other products to be presented at the show include the Ka-52E attack reconnaissance helicopter, the Mi-28NE combat helicopter, the Orion-E, an export version of the reconnaissance and strike complex, which is supplied to the Russian army, as well as the civilian MS-21 and long-range Super Business Jet (SBJ).

"Undoubtedly, the market of the Gulf countries is promising for us in terms of stepping up military and technical cooperation and promoting Rostec’s civilian products," Kladov said, adding that this year Rostec will showcase an unprecedentedly large collection of aircraft in Dubai.

The Su-57 fighter aircraft, however, will not be presented in Dubai this year, according to Kladov.

He emphasised that both Su-57 and Checkmate are equally important for his company. "We presented Checkmate as a chess piece of the knight on the geopolitical chessboard: our piece is very light-weight, but extremely valuable because of its ability to turn the tide of any game. In this paradigm, the Su-57 can be compared with the queen, a unique chess piece for solving most crucial tasks," he added.

Rostec’ Rosoboronexport, Russia's sole state export and import intermediary agency for the entire range of defence-related and dual-use products, technologies, and services, said in a statement on 7th September that it signed over 30 contract documents with foreign partners this year worth over €3 billion. Kladov did not disclose, however, how much of this came from the Middle East.

Kladov also spoke about VRT500 and VRT300 UAVs, manufactured by Russian Helicopters Holding Company, saying, "These models are currently being tested but their inherent flight performance indicators let us rest assured that they will be capable of competing in the Middle Eastern markets."

"Many of our developments have been tested in real combat conditions, have confirmed their reliability and efficiency, and this is a great competitive advantage, which, I am sure, will be appreciated by our Middle Eastern colleagues."