When combat is necessary, airpower capabilities yield a variety of strategic, operational, and tactical effects that provide disproportionate advantages relative to any other medium of warfare. The prototype of a new Russian fighter jet unveiled on 20th July 2021 features stealth capabilities and other advanced characteristics. Russian aircraft maker Sukhoi developed the new fighter under the LTS program, a Russian acronym for the Light Tactical Aircraft.
Its makers said the prototype is set to make its maiden flight in 2023 and deliveries could start in 2026. They said the new design could be converted to an unpiloted version and a two-seat model.
The new aircraft, which hasn’t received a name yet, is smaller than Russia’s latest Su-57 two-engine stealth fighter, also built by Sukhoi, and has one engine. It can fly at a speed of 1.8-2 times the speed of sound and has a range of 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles), the jet’s makers said.
Tribhuvan Darbari, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Texmaco Defence Systems Private Limited (TDSPL), said that India and Russia have a special and privileged strategic partnership, and also these two countries have a long history of defence cooperation. Therefore, such developments must be deemed beneficial for India also. India has been already using Russian-made fighter jets and also, 70% of the hardware owned by the Indian Armed Forces, belong to Russian/ Soviet origin. Though the Indian government has recently moved its focus towards self-reliance in defence manufacturing, yet Russia remains a trusted partner for defence requirements.
Russian state corporation Rostec, which includes Sukhoi and other aircraft makers, has advertised the new plane under the tag Checkmate, an approach apparently intended to underline its superior characteristics.
It said the new warplane belongs to the so-called fifth generation of fighter jets, a definition that assumes stealth characteristics and a capability to cruise at supersonic speed, among other advanced features.
Rostec said the new design includes artificial intelligence features to assist the pilot and other innovative technologies. It said, “The jet was designed to reduce service costs and to be easily adapted to varying customer needs.”
The prospective Russian fighter jet appears intended to compete with the U.S. F-35 Lightning II fighter, which entered service in 2015.
The Kremlin has made modernization of the country’s arsenals a key priority amid tensions with the West that followed Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
It also has strongly encouraged the development of new passenger jets to compete with planes built by American aircraft maker Boeing and Europe’s Airbus that currently account for the bulk of Russian carriers’ fleets.
Russia’s airliner programs have encountered delays amid Western sanctions that hampered imports of Western engines and other key components. But the country managed to produce a new engine for the new MS-21 passenger plane, which also was displayed at the show in Zhukovsky.
Discussing the importance of airpower and the need for modernization of the Indian Airforce, Tribhuvan Darbari said, “The IAF is currently the fourth-largest air service in the world, with nearly 1,500 aircraft, and, for this reason alone, it merits far greater attention than has been the case to date, moreover when operating as combined arms in joint operations, airpower plays important roles, not just for kinetic effects by agile precision firepower but in a wide range of non-kinetic ones as well.”