Russia will actively seek to woo international buyers, especially those from the Middle East at the 2021 Dubai Air Show, which takes place this week from Sunday to Thursday. Among the planes that will be on display is its new Checkmate single-engine light tactical fighter, a platform that has been widely touted as a more affordable option compared to the US F-35 Lightning II. Currently, fourteen countries operate the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter, and Russia clearly does not want to lose its share of the fighter jet market.
However, the Checkmate, which was unveiled last summer at the Moscow Aviation and Space Exhibition (MAKS), is just one of many planes that, according to Sergei Chemezov, chief of the state technology conglomerate Rostec, are now in high demand by Middle Eastern countries.
âFirst of all, I want to mention the Su-57. It is the only fifth-generation “heavy” fighter in the world offered for export, “Chemezov told TASS on Friday in the run-up to the international aviation fair. âIt presents completely different combat capabilities: stealth, high speed, combat payload, maneuverability and therefore its respective interest. ”
Chemezov added: âThe MiG-35 aircraft, the Il-76MD-90A military transport aircraft, the Il-78M-90A aerial refuelers and, of course, the Su-35 and Su-30 aircraft are also of interest. .
Attendees at the Dubai Airshow will be able to see some of these fighter jets in action, as Russian aerobatic group Knights are now expected to participate in the flight program, flying Su-30 fighters.
“Aircraft of this type are an excellent example of the success of Russian products in the international market,” said Chemezov. “By the way, we are currently testing the improved version of the Su-30SM2.”
Foreign arms sales
Russia is currently the second largest arms exporter in the world after the United States, and a Congressional Research Service report last month said: âArms sales are a central part of Russian foreign policy and are tightly controlled by the government to advance economic and policy objectives. . Russian arms sales are an important source of hard currency, promote Russian defense and political relations with other countries, and support important domestic industries.
Trends in global arms sales remain of lasting interest to Congress, and some lawmakers have expressed concern over sales as they support aggressive and malicious Russian activity, foster conflict and regional insecurity, while being in competition with US arms sales.
The US government has imposed sanctions on the Russian defense industry, but it does not appear to have done much to dampen interest in the Russian aircraft.
“Many countries have long-standing arms relations with Russia, some dating back to the Soviet Union,” the Congressional Research Service report said. âDespite its global presence, Russia exports the majority of its weapons to five states (listed in alphabetical order): Algeria, China, Egypt, India and Vietnam. India has been the largest importer of Russian arms since 2016. Russia is trying to expand its customer base and aggressively seek new markets in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
The Checkmate and Su-57 have been touted as equal to the F-35, but to date Moscow has only produced a dozen of these latter planes, while the Checkmate is still essentially in the prototype stage and will only take not its first flight until 2023 at the earliest. Still, it looks like Moscow wants to keep its place as an arms exporter and has done everything it can to put on a good show for potential buyers from Dubai.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan writer who has contributed to over four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites. He writes regularly on military small arms and is the author of several books on military hairstyles, including A gallery of military hairstyles, which is available on Amazon.com.