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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

F-35 vs. Su-75 Checkmate: Who Wants to Buy Russia’s New Stealth Fighter?

Checkmate Stealth Fighter
Image Credit: Russian State Media.

The Su-75 Checkmate, a fifth-generation stealthy fighter plane, is touted as being cheaper than the F-35 Lightning II. The Su-75 comes in at an estimated $30 million, while the F-35 can be had for around $80 million. The Russians believe that countries with mid-tier, but growing air forces, such as the United Arab Emirates, India, and Vietnam will want to purchase it. So, Russia has taken the Sukhoi Checkmate on a roadshow starting with the UAE’s Dubai air exhibit taking place this week. This is the first time the Su-75 has been outside of Russia.

But is the F-35 better for allies to purchase compared to the Su-75, which has no known customers?

What We Know About the Checkmate

The Su-75 looks bigger than what was expected. The stealth Checkmate is supposed to be a light tactical aircraft, but perhaps it could be seen as a medium-size airplane.

The Checkmate has a single engine with plenty of power. The Saturn AL-41 engine produces 24,000 pounds of thrust without afterburner and 39,000 pounds with afterburner – resulting in MACH 1.8 speed continuously. The engine can push out a range of at least 1,700 miles with a ceiling of 40,000 feet or higher. The engine could also be the fifth-generation Izdeliye 30, which has similar features.

Stealth characteristics include internal weapons bays, a hybrid wing body, a V-shaped tail, and an improved jet engine air intake with lighter mechanical systems.

The airplane can carry 7-tons of weapons with a large range of guided and unguided munitions including air-to-air, air-to-ground, and anti-ship missiles. It can reportedly engage and destroy six targets at once. For close-range threats, it has a 30mm cannon.

Who Will Order the Su-75?

The first flight is planned for 2023 and full production is slated to start in 2026.

Despite an Emirati delegation of VIPs inspecting the airplane at the Dubai Air Show, there are no orders so far. And the Russians have struggled to make just 12 of their other fifth-generation fighter – the Su-57. So, production estimates for the Checkmate may be optimistic.

However, if the Su-75 is successfully sold and delivered, there could be an unmanned version.

The F-35 Is Popular with U.S. Allies

An advantage of the F-35 over the Su-75 is pilot training. The United States has plans for a pilot training center and the Air Force is currently looking at five different sites for the facility. This could be a selling point for the F-35 as U.S. allies would not be enamored with traveling to Russia for pilot training if Moscow did offer that option.

An estimated 400 to 500 F-35s have been delivered to allies. Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom are official partners. Israel, Japan, and South Korea are also buying the fighter in large numbers. Belgium is a new buyer. Israel has used their own avionics, software, and weapons systems on the F-35.

The Russians may not have the same level of weapons diplomacy abilities that the United States has. The Su-75 still has to be assembled in numbers to match the proliferation of the F-35 and this could be a challenge for the Russians. If the Su-75 will indeed be cheaper at $30 million per plane, they may get some fence-sitters who would normally go with the F-35 to choose the Checkmate.

1945’s new Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.

This piece has been updated since its publication. 

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.



  1. Me

    November 18, 2021 at 7:00 am

    You state that turkey is in the program. Buy they got moved out after USA didn’t sold them patriots and they bought the Russian s400 instead.

  2. Vince

    November 18, 2021 at 7:11 am

    Let me guess, the Russians are already claiming it’s better than the F-35. 🙄

  3. patrico

    November 18, 2021 at 7:53 am

    Cela va faire rire les Aérodynamiciens mais tant pis! Je le dit et répète sur Tous les sites dès que je le vois le SU-75 CheckMate !
    Le plus beau Jet Figther du 21 siècle ! Les plus beau, les plus étudié, travaillé et les plus performant Aérodynamisme Aéronautique jamais autant poussé !Tout est en succession d apports d écoulements air et d éliminations des contraintes couches limites et effets de turbulences! De la pointe du Nez à la ligne d arrête de finale de Queue ! Du shape Dorsal au Ventral en passant par une géométrie rare des Wings blades et de leurs positions ! J arrête ici vous aurais compris que je l adore (de très loin) sans même connaître son Avionique qui doit naturellement être en dessus de toutes mesures. Bravo aux Ingénieurs. Fan! Speed the Sky en démo.
    Thank you merci! à Tous!

  4. Steve McFarland

    November 18, 2021 at 11:36 am

    The SU74 is just another flying pig in the sky.

  5. Hunter

    November 18, 2021 at 7:35 pm

    A better comparison for the SU-75 would be the F-16.

    The F-16 is a low cost, single engine, multirole fighter. And tho prices vary it averaged 25 million per aircraft (again each block, type, and country had different prices).

    So does the SU-75 stand a chance? Unlikely. It’s to big to match the price tag. The moto of it being match for a F-35 is a joke when Russia can’t even produce their own SU-57. And other in production aircraft look much better to buyers like the SAAB grippen, F-16, F-35, Or the T-7 trainer which is being looked at being converted to a combat aircraft.

  6. Grim

    November 18, 2021 at 7:45 pm

    12? They built only 2 real su-57 and one of them already crashed. They rest of 12 are prototypes with questionable abilities.

  7. Grim

    November 18, 2021 at 7:58 pm

    After more than 10 years since 1st su-57 prototype flew russia managed to build 2 su-57 fighters. Now Russia is planning to start selling this one 3 years after the 1st flight.

  8. Karam

    November 19, 2021 at 3:26 am

    Turkey has not received any

  9. Zvi shapira

    November 19, 2021 at 4:34 am

    You state here, incorrectly, that Israel “…is placing orders…”for the F-35.

    Hello…F-35 have been flying combat missions here in Israel for over a year now.

    you should check your facts beforehand.

  10. Thomas

    November 19, 2021 at 2:26 pm

    Much like the touted Chinese “stealth” aircraft, they aren’t really stealthy. Bad and high heat source engines,too many things to catch radar waves and pr that keeps trying way to hard show these aircraft as the turkeys that they are.

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