After Russian aircraft specialist Sukhoi teased the unveiling of a new fighter jet at the MAKS-2021 airshow in Zhukovsky several days ago, first photos of the aircraft leaked online on July 15.
From what is visible in the photographs, which show an aircraft under tarps, the fighter appears to be smaller than the Su-57 twin-engine stealth fighter which entered service just last year.
Another unknown is whether this is will just be a mockup assembled for the show or an actual prototype.
According to Russian reports, the new aircraft is poised to be a single-engine “light tactical” aircraft. As per the details reported by TASS, the fighter will have a takeoff weight of up to 18 tons and a maximum speed of over two Mach. The report also said the aircraft is expected to have a high thrust to weight ratio and a large weapon payload.
It has also been indicated that the fighter could be a competitor to the Lockheed Martin-built F-35. This is at least what seems to be Sukhoi’s attention, as a teaser video released ahead of the unveiling shows the aircraft flying over several destinations across the globe, drawing awe from the pilots.
A website launched ahead of the aircraft’s unveiling on the first day of the show indicates that the fighter might be called Checkmate. This is corroborated by photographs from July 15 showing a hangar at the Zhukovsky airport sporting a wrapping with “The Checkmate” written on it.
In announcement on the unveiling of the aircraft, Rostec said it was convinced that the new product developed by United Aircraft Corporation “would arouse genuine interest not only in our country, but also in other regions of the world, including our competitors abroad.”