Sukhoi Checkmate Fighter Model Breaks Cover Before MAKS

A teaser video released on July 18 by Rostec shows the head-on profile of the Checkmate fighter.
Credit: Rostec

A video has leaked showing the Sukhoi Checkmate fighter design two days before its scheduled reveal at the MAKS air show. 

The video confirms the single-engine fighter includes a ventral air inlet, delta wing and all-moving vertical stabilizers. 

In many ways, the configuration bears similarities with the Sukhoi’s twin-engined Su-57, especially the single-seat canopy design, infrared search and track blister ahead of the cockpit and the all-moving vertical stabilizers. 

Obvious differences from the Su-57 include the single-engine propulsion system and the apparent lack of leading-edge vortex controllers. 

The video appears to show the Checkmate model includes a side weapons bay large enough to store a short-range, air-to-air missile. 

It was not clear from the angle of the video if the Checkmate fuselage contains a main internal weapons bay. 

As part of the Checkmate marketing campaign, Sukhoi parent Rostec tweeted an image of an F-35-style, sapphire glass aperture protruding from under the forward fuselage, indicating the presence of an electro-optic targeting system. The image included a reflection in the glass of a naval warship, suggesting the purpose of the sensor contained within the sapphire glass has at least a maritime strike role. 

Checkmate fighter model
A composite image reveals the Sukhoi fighter nicknamed "Checkmate." Source: VIA TWITTER

The video was captured within the Rostec Checkmate pavilion at the MAKS air show on Zhukovsky Airbase outside Moscow. 

In the same display area as Checkmate, the video also showed a mock-up of an air-to-surface cruise missile that resembled the Kh-59MK and may be part of the display with the fighter model. The MK version of the missile includes an active radar seeker for the maritime strike mission. Similar versions of the Kh-59, however, have a land attack role. 

The video spoils Rostec’s hopes to reveal the full Checkmate configuration for the first time on July 20 on the first day of MAKS. 

The Russian conglomerate started teasing the announcement on July 13, releasing cryptic ads on social media of a Knight piece from a chess game floating or flying in the air. The images were marked as “Checkmate,” with the tag line: “Guys, everything is simpler than you think.”

The project appears to be a aligned with the Sukhoi Lightweight Tactical System (LTS), a single-engine, 18 metric-ton thrust, Mach 2 fighter that was revealed in a news report by the TASS news agency last May. 

The development status of the project is not yet known. 

A teaser video released by Rostec July 13 oriented the fighter project at the export market, with Argentina, India, UAE and Vietnam named as possible customers. 

Steve Trimble

Steve covers military aviation, missiles and space for the Aviation Week Network, based in Washington DC.


Looks like they stole the wrong set of plans again! in the 70s it was the A-9, now it's the X-32
The aircraft in the image looks to be smaller than the SU-57. Perhaps this reduce the cost of stealth that the Russians are willing to pay.
Sergio Coniglio Mon, 07/19/2021 17:56
Its configuration looks as a tailed (butterfly) delta, possibly with good masking of the engine nozzle. I would expect, in addition to the two LERX missile bays, a further larger bay in the fuselage bottom for perhaps a couple of MRAAMs or not so big AS weapons.