Checkmate, the single-engine fighter with more range and range


Russian state-owned company Rostec posted a tweet claiming that the Checkmate will have the longest range and range in the single-engine fighter category. Likewise, it would also be the one that could carry the greatest payload.

Bold statements that deserve a comparison with the only fifth-generation single-engine fighter currently in service, and the one it could one day be measured against on the battlefield, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.


During the official unveiling of the Checkmate at the MAKS 2021 international show, it was reported that the hunter would have a clean range (without external fuel tanks) in the order of 2,800 km (1,500 nm). Meanwhile, according to data provided by his maker, the F-35 has a range of 2,200 km (1,200 nm). Point for checkmate.


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Regarding the range of action, or more importantly, the time that the aircraft can spend flying over the area of ​​interest, loaded with weapons and waiting for a target to be assigned to it (fundamental characteristic for support missions on the ground), in neither case is there precise data. There are many parameters that affect how long an aircraft can fly over a given area, such as engine fuel consumption, aerodynamic efficiency, etc. And there are other variable parameters such as the fuel load of the aircraft, the weight of the weaponry in it. door, flight profile, weather, etc. Making this comparison, especially in the absence of a lot of data on the Checkmate, is impossible.


This article is perhaps the most surprising in Rostec’s statement, as the F-35 can carry a maximum weapons load of up to 8,160 kg (18,000 lb), split between its internal weapon bays and its external wing pylons. That’s a truly impressive number for a single-engine, surpassing even medium twin-engine aircraft such as the MiG-35, Eurofighter, and the F / A-18E / F Super Hornet.

On the flip side, the Checkmate’s declared maximum war load when it was unveiled was 7,400 kg (16.314 lb), which isn’t bad at all, but not enough to outperform the F-35. Until new data on the capabilities of the Checkmate emerges, the point for the combat payload category goes to the F-35.

However, the payload (the one mentioned by Rostec) is more than just armament. The payload is all that the hunter can carry to complete the combat mission, which includes the pilot, electronic equipment, weapons and ammunition, and fuel.

If Rostec’s statement is true, it would mean that the payload will largely be fuel, which is linked to the elements of range and range. If we take into account that the F-35A carries the sizeable amount of 8,278 kg (18,250 lbs) of internal fuel, this means that the Russian plane will carry a prodigious amount of fuel inside its fuselage.

Are Checkmate claims probable?

First of all, it must be remembered that the F-35 is a fighter in full production, with more than 730 units delivered, and the Checkmate, for now, is a very nice (point for Russian in style) mock up and good wishes (two points for the F-35 for the existing one).

F-35 United Arab Emirates

Having stated the obvious and having been at the Dubai Air Show 2021 standing next to the Chackemate, I can say that Rostec has every reason to make such statements. For a single-engine aircraft, the future Russian 5th generation fighter is big. It has a lot of internal volume. I would say it’s bigger than the F-35A, which was also present in the model at the show.

Aerodynamically, the Checkmate looks fairly clean and almost thin, but it’s a very large aircraft, which could hold the amount of fuel needed to meet Rostec’s expectations.

Checkmate Dubai Air Show 2021
It’s me, posing happily next to Checkmate, and taking advantage of the place’s air conditioning.

And these aspects could be of particular interest to the Russian Air Force, which has always been known to need long-range combat aircraft to patrol its vast expanses of territory. And attracting the interest of the Russian Air Force is of particular interest to Sukhoi and UAC, because without a firm order from them, it seems highly unlikely that they will manage to attract enough investment to allow the Checkmate to make the trip from the model at the long-awaited stage of series production.

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