MOSCOW — A potential new Russian fighter plane will be unveiled during a Moscow air show that begins next week, according to Russian aviation manufacturers.
The new warplane was spotted being hauled through an airport in Zhukovsky, outside of Moscow, where the MAKS-2021 International Aviation and Space Salon starts Tuesday. The show’s opening is expected to be attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to Russian media sources, the new jet was developed as part of a program to build a light tactical fighter by the Sukhoi aircraft manufacturer.
The new aircraft, unlike Russia’s newest Su-57 two-engine stealth fighter, is smaller and has only one engine.
The Su-57 was designed to look like the American F-22 Raptor stealth fighter, but unlike the American aircraft, which has been in service since 2005, serial manufacturing is only getting underway, and a new engine that will allow it to travel at supersonic speeds is still in the works.
The name of the new warplane is unknown, and little is known about its capabilities or deployment prospects.
The next Russian fighter plane looks to be aimed at the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet, which entered service in 2015. Russia intends to sell the new planes to international clients in the future.
The “fundamentally new military aircraft” will be presented Tuesday at the Moscow air show, according to Rostec, a state organization that comprises Russian aircraft manufacturers. “Russia is a renowned trailblazer in the production of combat aircraft, as well as one of the few nations in the world with full-cycle capabilities for creating sophisticated aviation systems,” it added.
Following the announcement by Rostec, Russian plane spotters hurried to Zhukovsky to photograph the new plane, evoking memories of Cold War spies trying to catch a peek of the latest Soviet fighters at the heavily guarded airport that functioned as the country’s main military aviation test site.
Before the introduction, Rostec released a photo of the new jet wrapped in tarpaulin with the words “want to see me naked?” scribbled beneath it in an attempt to pique public curiosity. It also uploaded a short video of ecstatic international passengers and the jet’s hazy shadow on the sea.
Another teaser shot released on Rostec’s Facebook page on Saturday purported to show a reflection of a British type 45 destroyer in the new Russian warplane’s optical sensor, along with the words “See you.” “Black tarpaulin is appealing, but the details are always more intriguing,” Rostec remarked.
The HMS Defender, a British type 45 destroyer, was involved in the Black Sea incident on June 23 when Russia claimed one of its warships fired warning shots and a warplane dropped bombs in the Defender’s course to chase her away from a region near Crimea that Moscow claims as its territorial waters. The UK, like the rest of the world, refused to acknowledge Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, insisting that the Defender was not shot at and that it was sailing in Ukrainian seas.
Putin said that even if Russia had sunk the British warship, the event would not have sparked a global battle since the West understands it can’t win such a war, a bold comment that appeared to suggest his determination to increase the stakes if a similar incident occurs again.
After Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s the Crimean Peninsula, accusations of Russian interference in elections, hacking attacks, and other irritants, the Kremlin has made modernization of the country’s armed forces a top priority amid a bitter strain in relations with the West, which have sunk to post-Cold War lows.