At Russia’s premier expo for military aircraft in July, Russian President Vladimir Putin inspected a prototype jet that is designed to take on more than enemy fighters. The lightweight stealth plane also is meant to cause geopolitical headaches for the U.S.
The LTS Checkmate would be the world’s second single-engine fighter plane to incorporate the most sophisticated radar-evasion and command systems. The only other plane in this category, the F-35, manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp. , is the most advanced plane in the U.S. arsenal.
The F-35 is in demand internationally, providing Washington a viable defense export that also helps advance U.S. security and diplomatic aims. Israel and Japan are among the 15 countries that have received the F-35 or reached agreements to buy it.
Russian officials have said they would like to sell the Checkmate to the United Arab Emirates, Argentina, India, and Vietnam—countries with U.S. security ties—though none has yet agreed to a deal.
Checkmate, as its name suggests, aims to contest U.S. strategic leverage, defense analysts say. Russian officials characterized the plane as a commercial project.