Russia's Cheap Su-75 Checkmate Stealth Fighter Might Not Be RIP Afterall

February 7, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Middle East Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: RussiaSu-75Su-57Su-75 CheckmateSu-57 FelonStealth

Russia's Cheap Su-75 Checkmate Stealth Fighter Might Not Be RIP Afterall

It has been reported that the first development batch of Russia's new Su-75 Checkmate stealth fighter is set to begin production in 2026. Yet, that might not happen.

Russia Looks to Make Moves in the Middle East to Find Buyers for the Su-75 Checkmate: As reported, in the past century, Russia became almost synonymous with chess. The country – including during the Soviet-era – produced more grandmasters and world champions than any other, and its players enriched the ancient game immensely. Chess is a game about thinking several moves ahead, and it would seem that is how the Kremlin has attempted to operate as well.

Sometimes it has worked out, and as the nearly two-year-long war in Ukraine has shown, sometimes Russia has failed to consider all the moves its opponents can make.

However, it appears that Russia will employ every move possible when it comes to its fifth-generation export aircraft – even as it seems the outcome is crystal clear.

Su-75 Checkmate Reboot?

After failing to find any serious foreign buyers since it was first introduced nearly three years ago, Rosoboronexport presented the aircraft at this month's World Defense Show 2024 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The state-owned military-industrial conglomerate subsidiary announced that the Checkmate Su-75 light tactical aircraft may become the basis for the development of a new jet together with countries in the Middle East,

"The Checkmate fifth-generation light tactical aircraft was for the first time demonstrated to foreign public at Dubai Airshow in 2021. The open-architecture aircraft is the most vital product for the joint design of prospective airborne complexes in the Middle East," Rosoboronexport CEO Alexander Mikheev told reporters, as reported by Tass.

The new selling point according to Rosoboronexport is that the Checkmate's construction could be adapted for various missions, while an unmanned Su-75 option is also planned.

Russia's opening move with the Su-75 – a derivative of the Sukhoi Su-57 (NATO reporting name "Felon") – was to offer it as an affordable alternative to the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II and Chinese-made Shenyang FC-31 when it was first unveiled at the MAKS 2021 international air show outside of Moscow. The export model was then introduced at the Dubai Airshow 2021 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where Russia sought to find potential Middle Eastern buyers, but there were no takers.

Rosoboronexport's next move was to look to India, which showed no interest. Perhaps seeing itself cornered, Russia again attempted to court New Delhi this week, only to pivot and return to trying to entice the Arab world with the opportunity to help produce the fifth-generation light tactical fighter.


It has been reported that the first development batch of the Su-75 is set to begin production in 2026. Yet, even that might not happen.

It was just over two years ago that John V. Parachini, senior international defense researcher and former director of RAND Research Institute's Intelligence Policy Center, suggested that the Checkmate was little more than vaporware marketing – referencing software and hardware that never materializes after being introduced often with much fanfare.


Russia's Rosoboronexport may need to line up a foreign buyer for the aircraft to actually move beyond the prototype stage. And at this point, it seems that Russia could truly be out of moves with the Checkmate. The game has been over for a long time, but Russia simply hasn't accepted the outcome.

 Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu

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. You can email the author: [email protected].