Russia’s Su-57 and Su-75 Checkmate Are Doomed, Amid Crippling Sanctions

A screen grab from a video of RT news. Screws are visible on the airframe of Su-57 without any surface treatment. Source RT news.

Su-57 and Su-75 development could be delayed due to international sanctions on Russia, and Russia could not import semiconductors and high-tech machining equipment from the European Union.

Losing access to some top-end chips from Asia over the invasion of Ukraine undercuts efforts to develop advanced weaponry, AI, and robotics.

An international tech blockade threatens to deprive Russia of sophisticated semiconductors needed to power advanced weaponry and cutting-edge technologies like 5G, artificial intelligence and robotics, experts say.

The new ban follows an agreement forged on Saturday between Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom and the U.S. to disconnect “selected Russian banks” from SWIFT.

The hype about their Su-75 “Checkmate” and Su-57 aircraft are over. Su-75 Fighter May Be Russia Just Flexing Public Relations Hype – The name is a play on Russia’s love of chess, and its defense firm is inexplicably offering its own perfume at air shows to whip up enthusiasm for foreign sales. The Su-75 Checkmate seems like more of a marketing and PR effort than a 5th-generation stealth fighter-bomber. International customers are necessary to pay for the program, and Russia’s Sukhoi Design Bureau is pulling out all the stops.

Russia’s copycat Su-75 Checkmate from the American X-32 fighter jet.

Rostec, the umbrella entity that is over the Sukhoi Design Bureau, even enlisted government officials to extol the Su-75’s virtues at December’s Dubai Air Show. Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov believes that militaries from Africa, Vietnam, and India are interested in acquisition of the airplane. The potential export sales also stalled because Russia cannot trade using U.S. dollars.

Diminished Russian military’s image

But in this day of sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, foreign customers are likely to balk, leaving the Su-75 to flounder on its own. That’s because its predecessor, the Su-57 Felon, is still not completely ready for combat, despite at least two deployments to Syria, where it reportedly only flew in the background in a non-combat role. The stealth, twin-engine Su-57 may take until 2027 for serial production.

Russia’s Su-35 was shot down by a Ukrainian man-portable missile. photo by Reuters.

Su-75 Checkmate disadvantages

The Checkmate, on the other hand, has some enviable characteristics, according to the Russians. It can fly at MACH 1.8 with a range of 1,700 miles and a ceiling of 40,000 feet. It has a winged-body with V-shaped tail. Seven-tons of ordnance can hold an impressive load of missiles and bombs. However, it may not even fly until 2023.

It may be integrated with Russian drones such as the S-70 “Okhotnik” (“Hunter”), in a loyal wingman configuration. This would mean that the Checkmate could perform as the “quarterback” to meld a fighting force of manned and unmanned warplanes for greater combat punch.

The Checkmate may not sell the way the Russians want it to.

Researchers from the RAND Corporation believe that the successful performance of attack drones over Ukraine such as the Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 has given the global market for fighter-bombers a jolt. Why not buy cheaper combat drones instead of expensive next-generation fighters that need frequent expensive flight hours, difficult to acquire spare parts, and complicated maintenance.

“The nature of warfare is changing, and armed drones cost a fraction of the price of manned aircraft. Countries with scarce defense budgets may pass on Russia’s supposed 5th-generation fighter aircraft, no matter what features it is claimed to have,” RAND’s John V. Parachini and Peter A. Wilson wrote in Defense One.

Russia’s arms industries are doomed

Russia received only one production variant Su-57 aircraft with phased array radar and a low-end AL-41F engine. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has made Moscow a pariah in the international community. Countries are running away from Russia and into the arms of China, as Global Defense Corp has noted, or pursuing other suppliers for new airplanes and defense hardware.

This is a knock-on effect that Putin and his war planning cronies have overlooked. Coupled with financial sanctions, the Russian arms industry and airplanes designated for foreign sales like the Checkmate may find orders dwindling, no matter how extensive the marketing and PR are. There may not be enough rubles to keep the Su-75 program afloat.

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