Checkmate by Black Knight – a new defense order.strategy

Undoubtedly, the new 5th generation Sukhoi Light Fighter Checkmate It was the main premiere of the MAKS-2021 Air Show in Zhukovskiy near Moscow at the end of July 2021.

Debutante ball

Social media campaigns launched by Rostec’s press service prior to the opening of MAKS-2021 were rare in the Russian military-industrial complex. Aviation enthusiasts and professionals were intrigued when it became clear that it was the premiere of a new fighter. New fighters rarely appear, especially when manufactured by one of the world’s leading producers. Most of the remaining novelties presented at MAKS-2021 were of civilian nature, as if they didn’t want to distract from the checkmate premiere. The point here is, of course, the area of ​​expertise embodied in major Russian exhibitions. While MAKS focuses on export versions of civilian and military products, the ARMY Forum is dedicated to military products, including those for the domestic market.

Vladimir Pilojikov, CEO of KINETIC High Complexity Prototyping Center, creator of brand identity for Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft, designers of several Russian spacecraft and satellites:

– Checkmate contains an unexpected combination of smooth and very sharp forms. The air intake under the fuselage looks tough, it may actually be good. This is how new aviation aesthetics are implemented. By the way, Su-57 and checkmate look like father and son. They belong to the same brand and you can feel the family resemblance. However, the competition between facets and smooth outlines is worth the effort. This is my biggest question as a designer.

There is another point to mention here. No matter how a checkmate is created, it’s just trendy just because it’s new and unique. The presentation was a bit historic, but it was held professionally. The global community should react positively, at least as new players have emerged in such an exclusive segment.

However, this time MAKS has provided the site to one of the most important premieres of the year in the military aviation sector. Officially released on July 20th, Sukhoi LTS (Light Tactical Aircraft is the official name of the program), called Checkmate for the international market, has an unofficial, unapproved Su-75 index and is truly It turned out to be a unique vehicle. .. So far, what do we know about it?

The Sukhoi Checkmate is a single-engine fighter with triangular wings and a V-shaped tail. The two diagonally mounted all flight planes serve as both horizontal and vertical stabilizers at the same time. In such a configuration, the visibility of the radar is reduced.

The most important advantage in terms of development, production and operating costs was the integration with the Su-57 in terms of engine. The in-line Checkmate will be equipped with the Su-57’s “second stage” engine. Also known as “Type 30”, it is currently being tested. The nozzles of the engine are controlled in a round shape, and measures are taken to reduce visibility.

Great attention was also paid to details that are extremely rare for Russian fighters. Judging from the shape, it is an underberry air intake that is a diverterless supersonic inlet (DSI). This type is considered to be the most progressive because it reduces radar visibility and weight and simplifies the design. A minor drawback of such a structure is that aircraft with a DSI may have a slightly lower maximum speed due to intake optimization for working in more general modes.

Flight characteristics revealed:

  • Maximum speed up to 1.8.
  • Range up to 2,800 km (additional tanks can be placed both under the wings and in the internal weapons bay without a drop tank).
  • Up to 8g G-force.

Weapons are placed in three internal air-to-ground compartments – two front ones for each one air-to-air missile and a central one that can accommodate either three air-to-air missiles or two bombs or air-to-ground missiles. There is one (Kh-38 and Grom-1 missiles were placed in the presented sample compartment). A wide range of available weapons have been announced, perhaps corresponding to the Su-57 nomenclature. There are no specific details about the Underwing Pylon for weapons, but this option is available.

In the presentation, we will discuss separately the option to house a gun in the weapon bay and the option to house unguided weapons (bombs, rocket missiles) in the arsenal to “economically” destroy ground targets under simple conditions. Mentioned. The total declared payload weight is up to 7,400 kg. Therefore, when it comes to armament, the Checkmate is about as good as the much heavier F-35. The general load on the internal compartment of an American fighter is two air-to-air missiles and two bombs / air-to-ground. The missile has a total payload weight of up to 8,160 kg.

The basic version of the fighter is single-seat, but you can develop a two-seat version and an unmanned / optional manned version that can operate in the same formation as the manned Su-57 and Su-75. “Royal Wingman” is a very popular concept in the development of combat aviation today. By the way, after the MAKS air show, military-industrial complex sources revealed to TASS plans to develop a two-seater “commander” version of the Su-57.

The first flight of the checkmate is scheduled for 2023 and, of course, must be made with the sample presented at MAKS-2021 after it has been completed and passed the ground test. Several more prototype releases are planned for 2024-2025, with mass production ready for 2026-2027.

Open ground

Such aircraft are in great need, the sooner the better. In fact, the traditional and big niche of Light Fighters is almost empty in the world market. In the second half of the Cold War, the concept of the ideal composition of the Air Force was formed. According to it, the Air Force consisted of lightweight, huge fighters and heavier “elite” vehicles. The American pair of twin-engine F-15s and single-engine F-16s can be considered a “gold standard” because the aircraft is nearly integrated, including the engine, which is a key operational component. At the same time, the single engine version was much cheaper in operation than at the time of purchase.

In the Soviet Union, for some internal economic and technical reasons, both the Su-27 and MiG-29 were developed with twin engines and were not integrated with each other, indirectly affecting the development of the MiG family. It may have been. Representatives of this family are exported much less frequently and are rarely present in the Russian Aerospace Forces. Taking into account the experience of the United States and the Soviet Union, China, with the support of Russia, has developed a single engine J-10 that is almost integrated with the Su-27 / J-11 / 16 family, including engine standardization. ..

In the fifth generation, tradition was broken. The United States was the only country in which two fifth-generation fighters were used, but the second fighter, the F-35, was developed much later than the F-22 and has little to do with it. It turned out not. What’s more, military demands have made fighters far from light and cheap. See programs in other countries that can develop only one fighter, with a focus on creating twin-engine aircraft (for more information). New defense order.Strategy, problem No. 3 (68) 2021).

In Russia, a unique situation arose when it became possible to create a single-engine fighter shortly thereafter, based on the development experience of the Su-57. , And operation). Many of its components are either borrowed (it’s important to remember the software in this area) or scaling (for example, an aerial radar with an active electronic scan array with a reduced number of modules).

Therefore, Checkmate can be promoted on the market as a separate aircraft and as part of the package offering with the Su-57 for wealthy buyers. In this case, the synergies work, both aircraft do not compete and strengthen each other’s position. .. No competitor has such an offer in the market. The F-35 is probably cheaper than the most expensive Western fighters, and its purchase often involves political obligations. The termination of the contract with Turkey is a good example. Even close allies are selling the F-35 with many delays. For example, the Gulf Arab monarchy contract is openly opposed by Israel. The Chinese JF-17 and Swedish JAS-39 fighters are reasonably well represented on the market and are unlikely to succeed in the long run. The United States continues to offer its allies an upgraded version of the F-16 by modest means, but most of these countries do not buy Russian weapons for political reasons.

Therefore, the broader markets of Asian countries, the Middle East, Latin America, and the growing markets of Africa are open to checkmates. According to Yuri Slyusar, head of UAC, the business plan for the first 15 years is to produce 300 fighters. In the promotional materials, Vietnam, India, Pakistan and Argentina were mentioned as countries of particular interest. The United Arab Emirates occupies a special place as a potential partner and potential customer of Checkmate.

Especially for traditional partners, we can promise not only to buy but also to participate in the project itself. After-sales technical services in the territory of your country, including project modernization, adaptation and production programs.

Yuri Thruser, Head of United Aircraft Corporation

Undoubtedly, the new fighter will find a place for himself in the Russian Aerospace Forces. The Sukhoi LTS is urgently needed as a major addition to the Su-57, which cannot replace all fourth-generation fighters in operation.

Author: Alexnader Ermakov
© New defense order.strategy №1 (72) 2022 Checkmate by Black Knight – a new defense order.strategy

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