Will the air war in Ukraine save the Russian Su-75 Checkmate?

It was believed to have disappeared after the resounding failure of its commercial launch. However, the new 5ᵉ generation single-engine fighter Su-75 Checkmate presented by the Rostec group at the Army 2021 exhibition, has been the subject of several patent filings in recent weeks in Russia, suggesting that it may still be active.

Remember that as it was presented, the Su-75 Checkmate is a new generation supersonic single-engine fighter intended to take over from the Mig-29, but also from the F-16 and other MIG-21s still in service. It had, moreover, something to seduce, with a speed of Mach 1,8, a comfortable carrying capacity of 7 tons, and a given autonomy to reach 3000 km.

In addition, the device had to have a reduced radar and infrared signature, and carry perfectly modern avionics. Its very attractive selling price was then announced at around $30 million, and its cost of ownership was even more so, at $6 per flight hour.

However, despite these tempting promises, and an impressive communication campaign aimed directly at India, the EmUnited Arab Emirates or even Argentina, the Checkmate did not convince.

Presented at the 2021 army show in Moscow for the first time, Rostec's Su-75 Checkmate was a bold bet by the Russian aeronautical industry to regain its place in the high-performance single-engine fighter market.
Presented at the 2021 army show in Moscow for the first time, Rostec's Su-75 Checkmate was a bold bet by the Russian aeronautical industry to regain its place in the high-performance single-engine fighter market.

The failed launch of the Su-75 Checkmate

For lack of international partners to finance its development, and in the lack of support from the Russian Ministry of the Armed Forces, then focused on the production of su-35s and Su-34, as well as on the development of the Su-57, S-70 Okthonik-B pair, enthusiasm quickly fell around this promising device, which could potentially provide an answer to many air forces unable to acquire recent devices beyond their budgetary means.

Moreover, with the start of the Special Military Operation in Ukraine, which quickly turned into a military disaster, requiring the full mobilization of Russian means, the question as to the development and export of the Su-75 Checkmate seemed to no longer be arise, neither for the Russian State, nor for its armies, and not more for Rostec, its promoter.

So, was the Checkmate checkmate? It's far too early to be certain on the subject. In fact, during the last few days, according to the Tass agency, Rostec would have filed 3 patent applications for devices related to the Su-75 : a single-engine single-seat version slightly revised to increase stealth on the one hand, a two-seater version on the other, as well as a drone version without a crew, suggesting to Russian observers that it could be an alternative, or even the final form of the S-70 Okhotnik program-b.

LUCAV Su70 Okhotnik during ground tests e1689869064503 Fighters Aviation | Defense Analysis | Russian-Ukrainian conflict
The S-70 Okhontik-B combat drone could have a final look very different from those of the prototypes observed

A new need for the Russian Air Force?

Above all, it is now possible that the staff of the Russian air forces, hitherto exclusively focused on heavy fighters like the Su-35s and the Su-57 for its modernization, has been forced to revise its plans in the face of lessons of the war in Ukraine.


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