Nigeria Shows Keen Interest in Prototype Stage of Russia’s Su-75 Checkmate Fighter Jet
Russia’s fifth-generation Su-75 Checkmate fighter jet, developed by Sukhoi, has reportedly piqued Nigeria’s interest. The jet made its debut at the MAKS-2021 aerospace exhibition and has been aggressively marketed globally by Russia.
An advertising campaign featuring “pilots” from target countries, including Nigeria, was launched in 2021. Nigeria’s interest in the aircraft was confirmed by Dmitry Shugaev, director of Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, at the Russia-Africa forum.
Shugaev indicated that Nigeria is interested in various types of Russian aviation equipment, although it’s too early to discuss specific contracts. He also mentioned that Russia has partially fulfilled a previous contract for 12 Mi-35 combat helicopters ordered by Nigeria in 2019.
Sukhoi is progressing
Reports suggest that the Sukhoi company is progressing with the fighter’s development. According to TASS, the United Aircraft Corporation [UAC] is working on three variants of the Su-75 light tactical aircraft: a single-seater, a two-seater, and an unmanned version. Patent documents indicate upgrades to the initial design of the Su-75 Checkmate’s fuselage.
The modified fuselage design is similar to a potential design concept for Lockheed Martin’s 6th generation fighter, as part of the Next Generation Air Dominance [NGAD] project. Changes to the design include a larger, second internal flaperon and a transformed tail section, which hint at improved aerodynamics and stability.
Changes also include modifications to the fuselage sides, keels, keel pedestals, and air intake shaping edges, reducing radar visibility. The two-seater variant has an extended cabin, while the unmanned version maintains the single-seater model’s design. The absence of a cockpit distinguishes the unmanned Checkmate from its single-seater counterpart. Although the new generation Su-75 single-engine fighter’s debut flight was initially scheduled for 2023, UAC has postponed it to 2025, with mass production expected in 2027.
The delay is possibly due to Sukhoi’s transition to an open architecture concept and the introduction of three new options, requiring further design modifications and updates to patent documentation. Despite skepticism about the Su-75’s future, 19FortyFive suggests that the fighter’s use of equipment and components from the Su-57 could help meet the ambitious timeline. However, they question Russia’s claims of the Su-75’s equivalence to the American F-35 Lightning II fighter.
No Abu Dhabi, but still interested
Russia’s effort to develop a cost-effective, fifth-generation stealth fighter, the Sukhoi Su-75 Checkmate, is facing significant challenges, according to analyst Maya Carlin from the Center for Security Policy.
Carlin’s recent article points out that the United Arab Emirates [UAE] has paused its participation in the project, which was a vital source of funding and research and development. The changing project timeline and the conflict in Ukraine have led to this decision. This has caused a halt in funding from Middle Eastern investors until the aircraft’s first flight. Russia’s resources are currently focused on the conflict with Ukraine, leaving the Su-75 project on hold.
Carlin also mentions economic sanctions on Russia, due to the Ukraine invasion, as a cause for Abu Dhabi’s decision to withdraw. These sanctions have blocked access to Western technology for the Russian defense industry. Another angle Carlin suggests is the UAE’s attempt to align with the USA and secure a deal for 50 Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jets. This move, along with Israel’s support, could help the UAE acquire these jets.
BulgarianMilitary.com had previously speculated that the UAE was a hidden financial supporter of the Checkmate project based on a 2017 announcement by Russia and the UAE. Carlin mentions that potential buyers for the Su-75 could be Vietnam and India.
BulgarianMilitary.com had also suggested Argentina as a possible customer. However, Carlin is skeptical about the project’s survival after the UAE’s withdrawal and the ongoing strain on Russian resources.