An unusual ad campaign gives a first glimpse of Russia’s new stealthy fighter jet

Rostec ad for new Russian stealth fighter jet
A photo posted on social media by Russian state-owned firm Rostec hinting at the company’s new fifth-generation fighter jet.

  • Rostec published some photos of a new design (or mock up) of a 5th-generation fighter jet ahead of MAKS 2021 airshow next week.
  • Not much is known about the new jet, but the media campaign seems to indicate that it will be oriented toward the export market.
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Photos started circulating on Twitter on July 15, 2021, of an aircraft believed to be a new Russian 5th-generation design.

The jet, covered by black canvas, was rolled to the static display at the MAKS 2021 show, that starts next week.

The appearance of the mysterious aircraft did not come completely unexpected. On July 11, Rostec posted a mysterious tweet that teased an announcement.

On July 13, TASS did a short report on what is expected to be the new Russian aircraft. TASS directly stated that the new jet would compete with the F-35, quoting Executive Director of Aviaport Aviation News Agency Oleg Panteleyev.

Panteleyev said that this is also the main reason why the teaser of the new design, released by Rostec, has been published in English. Rosoboronexport, as Panteleyev said, has invited over 120 delegations from 65 countries of the world to the aerospace show.

This suggests that this year’s edition of MAKS may be export-focused, with a significant emphasis placed on the promotion of the new aircraft.

It remains unclear whether the airframe is a prototype or just a mock-up.

The characteristics of the jet are also somewhat cryptic. TASS claims the jet would feature low RCS, high thrust-to-weight ratio, advanced weapons and significant payload – these are somewhat generic descriptors, usually assigned to most of the 5th-generation, or wannabe-5th-generation multirole combat aircraft.

The premiere is scheduled to take place on the first day of the MAKS show in Zhukovskiy – July 20, 2021. The Aviationist will have two correspondents on site and will probably be able to provide additional details on the new stealthy aircraft.

The shape seems to be (loosely) similar to the one of the YF-23.

According to some analysts, the new aircraft has been developed by the Sukhoi bureau. Based on the hashtags used on social media and images released so far the new type could be named “Checkmate.”

As noted Stephen Trimble on his Twitter account.

We may be dealing with an export product, modeled after the Su-57 Felon, but made cheaper to operate than the first of the Russian stealthy fighter aircraft.

Yesterday Rostec released an ad teasing the jet, also pointing to the export profile of the design, suggesting UAE, India, Vietnam and Argentina might be potential customers.

We have also noted that one of the pilots, in the last shot of the video, is wearing an American flight suit.

Still, for now, we know little about the jet, hence everybody needs to wait for it to be officially unveiled during MAKS 2021.

It is symptomatic, however, that Russia follows the footsteps of the US, creating a tandem of fifth-generation platforms. This may be viewed as an analogy of the US F-22/F-35 duo, with the Raptor being a counterpart of the Su-57, and Lighting being a counterpart of the new, lighter, single-engine design.

Panteleyev seemingly confirmed this, saying that the new, lighter design would be an answer to tactical problems.

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