If you want to see a ludicrous propaganda video about Russia’s new Su-75 Checkmate fighter we have you covered. The short film features an earnest Russian Air Force commander with ominous music that shows an antique chessboard. “The solution, he says, “is to turn the board over…and become a ghost.”
It’s definitely over-the-top faux-Hollywood material.
For example, a large snake is inexplicably shown at one point. And for some strange reason the Russian public relations machine has unveiled a new perfume with the airplane – also called Checkmate.
Stealth and Weapons Overview of the Su-75 Checkmate
The actual fighter, the Su-75, does indeed have some promise, despite the propaganda hype. The single-engine makes for a fast airplane at MACH 1.8. The engine enables a range of at least 1,700 miles with a ceiling of 40,000 feet.
The stealthiness is helped by an internal weapons bay and a hybrid wing body with a V-shaped tail.
The weapons are what you’d expect from a fifth-generation fighter – a 7-ton collection of air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, including anti-ship missiles. The Russians claim the warplane can engage and destroy several targets at once.
Su-75 Checkmate: Will It Sell to Overseas Customers?
The first flight is planned for 2023 and it may be introduced as soon as 2026.
The fighter costs only $30 million, which enabled it to draw a crowd at the recent Dubai Air Show.
The Checkmate is meant for export sales to help pay for the indigenous production run. The Dubai Air Show was the first time the Checkmate has ventured out of Russia. The comparatively low price tag could make the 5th generation airplane desirable with overseas partners.
Unmanned Wingman in Play
The Checkmate may have an unmanned version. It could also potentially control several drones at once as the video shows what appears to be unmanned aircraft. This is likely the Hunter S-70 Stealth Drone. It would be a significant capability for the Checkmate – if it could indeed be tethered to the S-70 unmanned system.
The Hunter, or Okhotnik in Russian, can fly at 600 miles per hour and weighs a hefty 20 tons – making it one of the biggest drones in the world.
The flying wing shape is supposed to make it stealthy. The Russians can arm it or use it for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. It also has the capacity to serve as an airborne command and control craft or as a bomber.
Su-75 Checkmate and Hunter Would Be a Valuable Collaboration
It’s possible the Checkmate could be integrated with the S-70 drone. The Russians have five years until the planned production date so this could be doable.
The Americans Have a Drone Wingman Too
The “ever loyal wingman” is an interesting concept. The United States has its own drone wingman called the XQ-58A Valkyrie. The Valkyrie is also stealthy and is being developed with the Skyborg artificial intelligence brain. The idea is to allow the Valkyrie to conduct targeting and reconnaissance for the F-35 and F-22 pilots so they can focus on flying and operating weapons systems.
Propaganda notwithstanding, the Checkmate is something to keep an eye on. Especially if foreign air forces begin placing orders. Until then, we are likely to see more Russian hype videos extolling the virtues of “turning the chess board over.”
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.