Will the Russian Checkmate be able to compete with the Chinese FC-31?

Chinese experts believe that FC-31 will have time to occupy the markets before Russian Sukhoi.  

The main sensation of the ongoing International Aerospace Salon MAKS-2021 was the premiere of the Checkmate single-engine fighter from PJSC Sukhoi Company. Judging by the named characteristics and price, the novelty will be able to compete with the American F-35 and the Chinese FC-31 Krechet, but experts from the PRC believe that Krechet has undeniable advantages, reports the Global Times.

The layout of the Checkmate fighter. 
The layout of the Checkmate fighter. 

Based on the available data, the Checkmate is a full-fledged fifth generation single-engine fighter. The maximum speed of the fighter exceeds Mach 2, and the flight range is 2400 km. At the same time, the Russian aircraft will be able to carry up to 7,400 kg of combat load. For comparison, the twin-engine FC-31 develops a maximum speed of 2200 km / h and can fly up to 1250 km with a maximum combat load of 8000 kg.

In addition, Checkmate was developed taking into account the partial unification of avionics with the Su-57. Coupled with the smaller size of the single-engine aircraft, this will help achieve better radar “invisibility”, said Wei Dongsu, a Chinese military expert. But the main advantage of the promising development is the announced price of $ 25-30 million. This will allow the Russian aircraft to interest India, Vietnam, and a number of African countries in the novelty.

Shenyang FC-31/ J-31

But these advantages can only be realized if serial production begins as soon as possible – before other fifth-generation aircraft projects begin to bear fruit, Dongsu added. This would allow it to capture new export markets, competing with the FC-31 and F-35, and begin replacing the outdated aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces.

According to the Chinese expert, Checkmate will become a dangerous competitor for the FC-31, which is also likely to be cheaper than the F-35. But the Chinese aircraft has already made test flights, which leads to a significant advance in the development of new items from Sukhoi.

As a reminder, it is believed that Checkmate received a promising Generation 5+ engine “Product 30” with a maximum thrust of 11 tons, and an afterburner thrust of 18 tons. The 16.5-meter aircraft can receive 4-6 compartments with weapons, which will be supplemented by the 30-mm GSh-301 cannon. Also, the aircraft is equipped with a radar with AFAR, which will provide operation at a distance of up to 200 km with the ability to track up to 40 targets, and the simultaneous attack of 8 targets. It is possible that the novelty will receive a radar based on the Zhuk-AM station, and an optical-laser station OLS-35.

Mitsubishi X-2
Japanese light fighter of the fifth generation Mitsubishi X-2 during its first flight. Another likely competitor of the Sukhoi, which made its first flight in 2016.

The first flight of the aircraft is scheduled for 2023, and deliveries by the first customer may begin in 2026. It is possible that the developers have the necessary groundwork obtained in the work on the Su-57, which will speed up the release of Checkmate. Recall that the Chinese J-31 made its first flight back in 2012, but the aircraft is still at the testing stage. Moreover, the aircraft still uses copies of Russian engines of previous generations, which are distinguished by a low resource and non-compliance with the fifth generation criteria.

Leave a Comment