Russia presented a prototype of its new fifth-generation fighter jet at the Dubai Airshow on Sunday, as the UAE’s agreement to purchase U.S. F -35 is progressing slowly.
It was the first time that the Sukhoi Su-75 Checkmate, unveiled in July, has been shown outside Russia, and according to the Russian state news agency, it was visited by a delegation from the UAE.
A glitzy English computer simulation video showed the lightweight tactical fighter, capable of carrying five air-to-air missiles simultaneously, destroying multiple targets at once.
The Russian presentation introduced the Checkmate, which was inspected by Vladimir Putin when it was unveiled in July, as an economical fighter that can fly at speeds of Mach 1.8 and a distance of 2,800 to 2,900 kilometers.
The Checkmate, which is due to make its first test flight in 2023 and start production by 2026, has yet to seal an order. The Lockheed Martin F-35 entered service in 2015 with the US Marine Corps.
Yury Slusar, head of United Aircraft Corp, which is part of the Russian aerospace and defense conglomerate Rostec, said there had been “intensive contact” with the Russian air force.
Western diplomats doubt that Gulf states allied with the United States will buy sophisticated equipment like the Checkmate, although sales of Russian equipment in the Gulf have increased in recent years.
The #UAE should get the US built F-35 no question. They're among our most strategic Arab allies: facing Iran, countering Jihadists, #ArabCoalition member, partner in the #AbrahamAccords & the Franco-Greek counterterror task force, modernists, exploring space, faithful to America. pic.twitter.com/W2Nw1zZSNS
— Walid Phares (@WalidPhares) December 9, 2020
The UAE signed a preliminary agreement in 2017 to purchase Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and work jointly with Russia on a next-generation fighter, but so far it does not appear to have progressed.
“The UAE likes the idea of cultivating ties with the Russian defense industry, but it’s mostly a way to send a message to the United States,” said Jean-Loup Samaan, senior researcher at the United States. Middle East Institute of the National University of Singapore.
Washington’s sale of 50 F-35 Lighting II fighter jets to the UAE has slowed amid concerns over the UAE’s relationship with China, including the prevalence of Huawei 5G technology in the country.
Read more: Present and Future of the American F-35
The United States agreed to sell the plane after the United Arab Emirates established ties with Israel last year.
Reuters with additional input by GVS News Desk