Advantage ‘Checkmate’ as UAE Seen Walking Away from F-35 Deal

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Russia’s single-engine Su-75 ‘Checkmate’ aircraft, promoted as an alternative to the American F-35 could make a pitch for the void left by the F-35, should the United Arab Emirates (UAE) abandon its quest to buy the Lockheed Martin-made fighter.

“It is not by chance that the first international presentation of the new fifth generation fighter is taking place here, at the Dubai Airshow,” said the head of Russian arms export holding company, Rostec, Sergei Chemezov at the show in November. “The Checkmate is discreet and well equipped, ideal in terms of combat effectiveness and cost per flight hour. All this makes the aircraft a unique offer on the international arms market,” he added.

The high-pitch presentation of the Checkmate at the Dubai Airshow when most other arms manufacturers were cautious about international event participation due to the pandemic surprised everyone. Perhaps Moscow had some inkling as to which way the UAE-US F-35 talks were headed and decided to make its own offering.

Moscow-Abu Dhabi fighter jet cooperation

In 2017, Moscow revealed it was beginning a project with Abu Dhabi to co-produce a fifth-generation fighter, reportedly based on the MiG-29. While this project did not take off, talks continued between the two to co-produce a fighter jet. The Su-75 Checkmate may have come at the right time to kick-start Russia-UAE fighter jet cooperation.

In a message to international news organizations Tuesday, an unnamed Emirati official said the UAE had called off talks to buy the F-35 and that “technical requirements, sovereign operational restrictions and cost-benefit analysis led to the reassessment.”

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken still ‘hopeful’ of F-35 deal with UAE

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said today that his country hopes to continue to work on implementing agreements to supply the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with F-35 fighter jets and unmanned aerial vehicles.

“We remain ready to move forward if the UAE strives to obtain both,” he said at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur today during his visit to Malaysia. “However, Washington must be convinced that it first and foremost guarantees Israel’s “high-quality military superiority” and must “conduct a thorough analysis of any technologies that are sold or transferred to other partners in the region, including the UAE,” he said.