The Difference Between the F-35 and Su-75 Should be Clear at Aero India 2023 – At this week’s Aero India 2023 Air Show – the largest military aviation event in Asia – Russian delegates are likely seeking to court investors from India to help fund the development of the Sukhoi Su-75 Checkmate fifth-generation fighter.
As numerous Indian media outlets reported, at noon local time on the inaugural day of the biannual air show, two United States Air Force F-35s conducted a flyover, landing at the Indian Air Force’s Yelahanka airbase.
The pair of advanced stealth fighters had flown to India from Hill Air Force Base in Utah and Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska.
One of the Lightning IIs took part in a flying demonstration this week, while the other will be on static display.
Surprise Star of the Air Show
This was the first time that a Lockheed Martin F-35 had flown over India, and there was much speculation about whether any fifth-generation fighter aircraft would actually take part in flight demonstrations at the Aero India 2023 International Air Show.
The U.S. delegation had simply announced on the eve of the show that there would be quite a surprise in store for attendees this year.
Video of the fighter’s demonstration has been shared on social media, and it clearly made an impact.
After the arrival of the Lightning IIs, officers from the Indian military and other visitors reportedly posed for photographs and selfies with the U.S. aircraft.
“The F-35 represents the leading edge of U.S. fighter technology. Aero India is an ideal forum to showcase the most advanced, capable, lethal, and interoperable weapons systems the U.S. has to offer. This system and others are designed to penetrate and defeat advanced adversary air defenses,” said Major General Julian C. Cheater, assistant deputy undersecretary of the Air Force, International Affairs, via a statement.
US Chargé d’Affaires to India Ambassador A. Elizabeth Jones also told reporters that the size of the U.S. delegation at Aero India and the country’s partnership pavilion showed that the U.S.-India strategic partnership remains one of “our most consequential relationships.”
“India and the United States are working together in so many ways to ensure a free and open, prosperous, connected, and resilient Indo-Pacific region, where our democracies can thrive. As partners, we’re working together to address climate change, improve global health and prepare for new pandemics, cooperate on cyber challenges, build quality infrastructure and ensure sustainable supply chains,” Jones added.
Other U.S. aircraft that are being presented at this week’s show include the F-16 Fighting Falcon, which will perform daily aerial demonstrations – while static displays will include F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornet multi-role fighters.
Meanwhile, Russia reportedly had a nice mock-up of its Su-75 Checkmate to entice would-be buyers.
Damper on Russia’s Show?
Though U.S. delegation officials have suggested it would be “too premature” for the United States to offer the F-35 to India, the presence of the aircraft likely won’t help Moscow’s efforts to convince New Delhi to partner on the Checkmate.
Yet, Russia was pulling out all the stops.
CEO of the Russian arms export agency Rosoboronexport Alexander Mikheev told state-media outlet TASS in an interview on the sidelines of the Aero India 2023 International Air Show that Russia is presenting an opportunity for India to develop the Su-75.
This aircraft is believed to be little more than vaporware at this point.
“Russia is ready to continue cooperation in this sphere [joint production], including with regards to the fifth generation fighter, and produce new airplanes after inking the contract at HAL’s (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s) facilities. This depends on decisions of the Indian side,” Mikheev suggested.
It is true that the two nations have a joint track record in fighter jet development.
“The experience of working on the Su-30MKI airplane together with India has demonstrated that our countries can collaborate in such utterly challenging and high-tech projects as the creation of the production facility for the fourth generation fighter. This aircraft has formed the backbone of the Indian Air Force and has proven itself well in active military duty,” added Mikheev.
The Su-30MKI should hardly be seen as the best example of the partnership between Moscow and New Delhi, as the Indian government suspended the Su-30MKI order over concerns regarding the Kremlin’s ability to deliver parts to HAL due to international sanctions imposed on Russia, and issues related to payment transfers.
The presence of the F-35 likely didn’t help either.
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Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.