“Leaked images” of what is speculated to be Russia’s ‘F-35’ stealth jet has added to the suspense that has been building up since its manufacturer released a teaser last week.
The “promising combat aircraft” will compete with the US fifth-generation stealth fighter, F-35, a Russian aviation industry expert said.
As reported by The EurAsian Times earlier, Russia will unveil the much-anticipated fighter jet at the latest edition of MAKS air show.
Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), part of the state-owned Rostec Corporation, created some buzz last week when it released a cryptic teaser saying “Everything is easier than it seems. Something seems to be on the way,” along with #Checkmate, that is speculated to be the name of the new jet.
In the past few days, several photos and videos have surfaced on social media platforms hinting at the Russian fighter jet or its prototype.
— Rostec Сorporation (@Rostec_Russia) July 15, 2021
The UAC is best known for its Sukhoi family of aircraft, with the Indian Air Force being one of its top customers.
The images doing the rounds on social media show a full-size airframe wrapped in a black protective covering. Rostec even reshared the image from its official Twitter, adding to the suspense.
Is It A Stealth Fighter?
Many experts dwell on Russia’s need to have a new stealth fighter jet when the country’s latest fifth-generation jet Su-57 is not even a decade old. The single-seat, twin-engine multirole fighter Su-57 had its maiden flight in 2007 but entered service only last year in December 2020.
In December 2019, the first commercially-produced Su-57 had reportedly crashed in Russia’s Far East during its initial testing.
Despite cutting-edge technologies, the homegrown fifth-generation fighter has failed to strike an export deal yet. After substantial talks with India, the negotiations reportedly fell through in 2018.
On the other hand, the American fifth-generation stealth fighter F-35 is already operating in 13 countries while landing a significant new deal with Switzerland Air Force this year.
Russia is pitching this new jet as an export item that it desperately needs to get into the selling stealth fighters business.
Moreover, experts suggest that the new stealth jet could supplement the incumbent fifth-generation Su-57 much like America’s F-35 and F-22 fill twin airpower roles in the country’s defense strategy.
Speculating The Features
Aviation experts have speculated on technical features and individual elements based on the leaked photos. The new jet will have a single-engine, as opposed to Su-57 twin-engine, with light to medium weight in size (18 tons).
According to Russian officials, the top speed will be around Mach 2 (two times the speed of sound) and the jet will incorporate thrust vector control for super maneuverability.
National Interest reported that the jet might be “optionally manned”, which means it could have the capability of flying with or without an operator on board.
Both the US and China have been turning old fighters into target drones that fly without a pilot for years.
The new jet will also reportedly have thrust control, a technology that Russian jets have an edge over its American and Chinese counterparts.
The Su-57 and Su-35 of the Russian Air Force operate full 360-degree thrust vectoring, granting even greater mobility as the jets can point in any direction, as per National Interest.
The new jet is speculated to have a low radar signature, a hallmark of stealth technology. Russia has struggled to master stealth technology owing to the sanctions-hit economy and production limitations. Su-57, the country’s first stealth aircraft, is considered to lose out against the US F-22 and F-35 as well as China’s J-20.