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Russia’s ‘Checkmate’ Fighter Jet to Be AI-Enabled 

Russia’s new single-engine light tactical aircraft (LTS) “Checkmate” will have “elements of artificial intelligence (AI),” in addition to other technological upgrades, the chief designer told TASS in an interview.

The aircraft, unveiled Tuesday at a biennial airshow outside Moscow, is pitched as a competitor to the US F-35. Its maiden flight is scheduled for 2023.

Features

Director of the Sukhoi Design Bureau and Chief Designer of LTS Mikhail Strelets detailed several “unique” characteristics of the aircraft. These include “the largest flight range for ‘light’ aircraft and the duration of loitering when searching for a target or waiting for target designation, the highest carrying capacity, as well as the best characteristics of onboard equipment.”

Strelets then described the aircraft’s “ergonomic” cockpit, “equipped with advanced electronic equipment with elements of artificial intelligence.”

He said that cockpit features help reduce pilot workload, enabling him to concentrate on combat.

Inspired by Su-57

The aircraft has been designed leveraging the scientific and technical know-how gained during the development of Russia’s first fifth-generation “stealth” aircraft, the Su-57.

The Su-57, which first flew in 2010 and was deployed ten years later, was retrofitted with an automated cockpit, Sukhoi Design Bureau’s head of cockpit department revealed earlier this year.

AI as ‘Co-Pilot’

Strelets further explained the role of automation in the LTS, saying that AI acts as a “co-pilot,” independently diagnosing aircraft systems and assisting “the pilot in a rapidly changing combat situation.”

“In addition, the cockpit of the fighter is equipped with unique panoramic touch screens that reflect the status of all systems, as well as provide comprehensive information about the route, targets, and threats.”

Additional Features

The aircraft also features an airborne equipment complex (OBE) platform, whose “wide-range all-aspect review system” instantly alerts the pilot of threats.

“The complex allows you to exchange information with other combat units. OBE has high characteristics of noise immunity. The aircraft is equipped with integrated electronic countermeasures and defense complex, which will not allow the enemy to detect them and [they can] and use weapons,” Strelets told the publication.

Finally, the chief designer also hinted at an unmanned version, revealing that the aircraft is capable of “operating in a network-centric combat system, that is, working as part of a group of manned and unmanned aircraft.”


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