Russia unveils new war plane, Putin hails air power

Russian aircraft makers on Tuesday unveiled a prototype of a new fighter jet that features stealth capabilities and other advanced characteristics.

Russian President Vladimir Putin inspected the prospective warplane displayed with much fanfare at the MAKS-2021 International Aviation and Space Salon.

The air show opened Tuesday in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow.

“What we saw in Zhukovsky today demonstrates that the Russian aviation has a big potential for development and our aircraft making industries continue to create new competitive aircraft designs,” Putin said in a speech at the show’s opening.

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 to twice the speed of sound and has a range of 3,000 kilometres (1,864 miles), the jet’s makers said.

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.

Rostec ran an aggressive advertising campaign in the days before the air show, and also posted a video featuring adulatory customers from India, the United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Vietnam and other countries, reflecting export hopes.

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.

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