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Who Will Pay for Russia’s Stealth Mathematical Warrior? Probably not Russia.




It is no secret that Rostec, the parent company of Russian aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi, intends to offer Sukhois new Checkmate fighter in the export market. Rostecs teasing video about the single-engine plane, which went online in mid-July, features actors portraying pilots from Vietnam, India, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates.

But Checkmate itself, which Rostec officially unveiled Tuesday at the MAKS air show at Ramenskoye airport in Moscow Oblast, has all the hallmarks of a high-flying interception whose main role is to shoot down US secret fighters. -22 and F-35.

Obviously it is clear why Russia would want a fighter like Checkmate who could bring down the main fighters of the United States itself. It’s less clear that Vietnam, India, Argentina and the UAE want the same thing.

Here’s the friction. Without foreign funding, Checkmate is unlikely to be built. But the fighter model may not be to the liking of buyers who need Moscow to make the project work. And that would leave in the cold a condition for Russian air that there might actually be a demand for a fighter like Checkmate.

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For that reason, Tom Cooper, an aviation expert and author, described Checkmate as a pig in a sack. The current question is, he said, who will buy that pig in the bag?

The Checkmate has a deviation-free entrance, a v-shaped tail, and internal gun interior features that contribute to what might be a small radar signature. At the same time, her arm seems to be big. This means that Sukhoi designed the fighter to fly and fight at high altitudes of 40,000 meters or higher.

Combine these health qualities and a high ceiling and it is clear that the equally secretive and high-flying US F-22 and F-35 armies are the main objectives of the Checkmates. That makes sense given Russia’s dogmatic fixation on opposing any new U.S. model, Cooper said.

To be fair, the Russian air force prefers two-engine long-range fighters because of the wide airspace Russian fighter jets have to patrol, especially in eastern Russia. Her family of Sukhois Flanker fighters is without reason for the Russian air force.

Matma is small. There is an engine. Lack of internal volume implies a short fighting radius. Maybe a few hundred miles.

Still, the new qualities of the aircraft must be liked by Russian generals who salivate at the possibility of blowing up the F-35. As a bonus, Checkmate stands to be cheaper than the Russians others stealth fighter, twin engine Su-57.

Moscow has ordered 78 Su-57s but production has proven to be a slogan, presumably due to their high cost types and complexity. Eleven years after the Su-57 first flew, only a handful are in the service of the squadron.

Russia can barely afford to fund the Su-57 project, which could cost tens of billions of dollars. This Checkmate is facing exactly the same obstacles as the Su-57, Cooper said. The Russian government … has no money to complete its development and put it into serial production.

But it is not clear Sukhoi and Rostec are trying hard to appeal to the same foreign governments they need to help pay for Checkmate. The Vietnamese, Indian, Argentine and Emirati air forces are not obsessed with shooting down the F-35 in the same way as the Russian air force. At least two of these foreign air weapons actually aspire to get their F-35.

They are imposing their solutions on the client, Cooper told the Russians. Take it or leave it.

This is not a particular Russian problem. U.S. defense firms often demonstrate the same kind of myopic behavior for weapons development that the Pentagon wants, but that are too complex or too expensive for foreign buyers. Not without reason that American shipyards build warships almost exclusively for the US Navy.

But it is worth noting how much American shipyards struggle in the absence of strong exports. Rostec and Sukhoi can also fight. They have joined at least one impressive young fighter stealthily, his aerial frame. Engines and aircraft are the hard parts.

But who will pay over the billions of dollars to complete the development of the aircraft?

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