DUBAI AIRSHOW NEWS: U.S. Rivals Show-Off New Fighter Aircraft

By Meredith Roaten

Meredith Roaten photo

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Accompanied by a laser light show, a mirrored ceiling and a perfume product release, Russia's new fighter jet made a splash during its first appearance abroad.

The prototype for the Su-75 Checkmate is on display at the Dubai Airshow Nov. 14 through Nov. 18. Though the light tactical aircraft appeared in July at MAKS — an aviation show in Moscow — the Checkmate had never previously been seen outside Russia.

Russian companies Sukhoi of the United Aircraft Corporation and Rostec are jointly developing the plane, and the prototype is ready for flight testing, according to the companies. The prototype was housed in a special chalet and theater where its capabilities were presented to the public in Dubai.

“The key characteristics of the aircraft are its low visibility, low flight hour cost, open architecture and high performance in terms of ‘cost-effectiveness,’” according to a press release.

The base price of the platform will be $30 million to $35 million, Sergey Chemezo, the head of Rostec, told reporters. In comparison, the U.S. F-35A joint strike fighter has a price tag of just under $80 million.

Russian companies plan to use technology to continue cutting costs. For example, a presentation at the airshow highlighted a predictive analytics system built into the aircraft as one way the system will increase efficiency and save money.

The fighter jet is powered by a single engine that produces 24,000 pounds of dry thrust and 39,000 pounds in afterburner mode. 

“Due to the high thrust to weight ratio … and unrivaled global thrust vector engine, the aircraft has impressive take-off and landing capabilities,” according to the presentation.

The Su-75 can reach Mach 1.8 and requires “reduced” take-off and landing space. Additionally, the plane will be able to team with unmanned platforms, and there are plans to develop an unmanned version of the jet, according to the presentation.

The fighter is considered to be a rival for Lockheed Martin’s F-35, which the United States is poised to sell to the United Arab Emirates. 

Meanwhile, the Chinese contingent at the airshow displayed China's L-15 Attack Fighter Trainer, the first time the aircraft has been on display internationally.

“It is a multi-role platform and features high performance, reliability and cost efficiency," according to a brochure from the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corp.

With two AI-322 turbo fan engines, the jet can achieve a maximum speed of about 620 miles per hour. The two-seater’s wingspan exceeds 30 feet, and it weighs more than 17,000 pounds— with a maximum take-off weight of more than 23,000 pounds. It also comes equipped with radar, tactical data link, targeting pod and radar reconnaissance pod, among other sensors, according to a company brochure.

“The aircraft’s mature technology, reliable systems and redundancy design make its safety record second-to-none in its class,” the brochure said.

China has also been developing other advanced fighter aircraft. The stealthy J-20 Mighty Dragon reportedly flew at a Chinese airshow earlier this fall.  

Topics: Air Power, Global Defense Market

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