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Russia is making renewed attempt to woo India with its Su-75 Checkmate light fighter jet, positioning it as the ideal successor to the aging MiG-29 fleet. This comes as India, along with several other nations, grapples with the need to replace their MiG-29s. The Su-75 Checkmate, unveiled in 2021, is a single-engine, lightweight stealth fighter that Russia touts as the ideal replacement for the MiG-29. Last year, design patents revealed a potential redesign, hinting at ongoing development efforts.

Russia has its sights set firmly on India, a long-standing partner and a nation actively seeking a replacement for its MiG-29 fleet. A 2021 Checkmate advertisement featuring pilots from potential buyer countries, including India, underscored Russia’s strategic marketing approach.

Despite Russia’s aggressive sales pitch, India has yet to respond to the offer. This could be attributed to several factors. One key concern is the lack of a functional prototype. While Russia claims a 2025 maiden flight for the redesigned Su-75, India might prefer a proven option.

India is also actively developing its own solution, the Tejas MkII, specifically designed to replace the MiG-29, Mirage-2000, and Jaguar fleets. This indigenous program aims to fulfill India’s need for nearly 200 new fighter jets, potentially offering greater long-term benefits in terms of self-reliance and technology transfer.

Russia’s renewed efforts to involve India likely stem from the lack of confirmed international buyers for the Checkmate program. High-profile marketing tactics, such as featuring pilots from potential buyer nations in promotional videos, highlight Russia’s eagerness to secure partnerships.

Checkmate will be offered at $30-35 million, while its cost per flight hour is expected to be “six or seven times” less than the Lockheed Martin F-35’s. The Su-75 Checkmate will be designed to fly at Mach 1.8 to a range of 2,800 km (1,740 mi.) with internal fuel. Its maximum takeoff weight is 26,000 kg (57,320 lb.) including 7,400 kg of weapons and stores.

India already approved funds for the development of AMCA a 5th gen fighter jet program and is also developing Tejas MkII that along with Tejas Mk1A will replace nearly 30% of its fighter fleet by 2035. It is expected that AMCA Squadrons will also replace older Su-30MKI Squadrons from 2040 onwards.

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