Su-75 air intakes inspired by the Zircon hypersonic missile

Despite its indefinite hiatus on the project, Aeronautics experts continue to look with interest at the design of Russia’s Su-75 Checkmate single-engine stealth fighter.

Exploring the potential of the Su-75 Checkmate

According to the information provided by the Russian media, the Su-75 is a light, versatile and ultra-maneuverable fifth-generation fighter, although its flight test stage has not yet been defined. It should be noted that among its most outstanding features is the supposed integration of artificial intelligence in its system.

Currently, aerospace attention is on the Su-57 Felon model , especially in light of the conflict in Ukraine. However, it is expected that after this period of tension, Russia can redirect its efforts toward producing and improving the Su-57, leaving the Su-75 in the background.

The Su-75, first presented two years ago at the Russian air show MAKS, has aroused curiosity among specialists due to its design, particularly its fuselage, which is reminiscent of the structure of the 3M22 Zircon hypersonic missile.

The Design of the Su-75: inspiration and technical advantages

Su-75 air intakes inspired by the Zircon hypersonic missile

The Su-75 shares a relevant design feature with the Zircon: the air duct that runs through the fuselage to reach the engine located in the tail section. This peculiar arrangement has shown in the past its ability to withstand extreme speeds and considerable overloads.

In addition, this structure is less susceptible to overheating of the fuselage when reaching ultra-high speeds, which adds additional value to the efficiency of the aircraft.

The Su-75 ‘s fuselage and air intake design, reminiscent of the Zircon aesthetic, translates into significant technical advantages. According to Russian specialists, this design makes it possible to reach supersonic speed with five times less specific thrust than the 3M55 Onyx supersonic missile currently in service and three times less after exceeding the speed of sound.

Su-75 design promises extraordinary G capabilities.

Russia struggles to sell its Su-57 Felon and Su-75 Checkmate fighters
Su-75. Image credit: Russian Government.

The Su-75, still in development, is sparking conversations for its supposed ability to support 10G payloads instead of the usual 8G. The “Zircon” air ducts that it has contribute to this increase in speed.

Experts highlight how the design of the air intake and the tail of the Su-75 seek to increase the stealth of the airframe in supersonic modes, characteristic of 5th-generation fighters.

The Su-75’s stage 2 plasma engine, which features all-angle thrust vectoring and a digital-electronic control system, known as the Izdelie 30, is also generating buzz.

A significant advance over the Su-57

Su-75 air intakes inspired by the Zircon hypersonic missile

This next-generation engine will propel the Su-75 into new frontiers of size, weight, maneuverability and flight characteristics, potentially far surpassing the Su-57.

The Su-75 is expected to be extraordinarily maneuverable, living up to the reputation of Russian fighters in this regard.

Russian fighter pilots highlight their ability to adapt to extreme situations and high speeds, qualities inherent in the Su brand.

The maneuverability of the Su-75 is reminiscent of the MiG-21

Su-75 air intakes inspired by the Zircon hypersonic missile
Mig 21

The Su-75’s maneuverability brings to mind those of the MiG-21, which American pilots have looked back on with respect and some bitterness since the Vietnam War.

At that time, the small and maneuverable Soviet MiG, similar in some ways to the Onyx missile, demonstrated its superiority over US aircraft, including the F-4 Phantom II.

These historical anecdotes reinforce the high expectations about the Su-75’s maneuverability.

The Su-75: An ambitious project in challenging times

The Su-75, an advanced Russian technology aircraft, is in an uncertain situation. The production of this innovative fighter, which features “Zircon” air ducts designed to support higher speed payloads, is threatened by current circumstances.

Su-75 air intakes inspired by the Zircon hypersonic missile

Russia, facing restrictions that limit its access to Western resources and components, is having difficulty obtaining essential components for the Su-75. In order to have proposed technological features such as new avionics, precision radar, and artificial intelligence, designers need access to integrated circuits, semiconductors, and chips.

However, these components are in limited availability, adding challenges to Su-75 development.

Financing of the Su-75: Another Hurdle to Overcome

In addition to technical challenges, the Su-75 project is also threatened by financial difficulties. The Ukrainian war has led to a significant increase in Russian military spending, thus limiting the funds available for new developments.

For the Su-75 to come to fruition, the development of at least three working prototypes would be required, but the funding required to achieve this is uncertain.

Additionally, a customer willing to buy the fighter would be required for production to be viable, a possibility that is diminished in the current international context.

The technical challenges of the Su-75: A point of no return?

Finally, an additional obstacle for the Su-75 is of a technical nature: the lack of clarity about the resolution of the absolute azimuth problem. This Russian fighter would require azimuth sensors in its avionics, a technology Russia is still developing.

The Su-57, another Russian fighter, does not yet have these sensors, and only the American F-35 is known to have them, posing an additional challenge for Russian engineers.

The solution to this problem is crucial for the advancement of the Su-75, and without it, the project could face insurmountable difficulties.

The future of the Su-75: uncertainty or resilience?

In short, the future of the Su-75 is at a crossroads. Technical, financial and logistical obstacles are significant challenges that could threaten the viability of the project.

However, ingenuity and resilience are historically present features of Russian aeronautical development. Only time will tell if these qualities will be enough to overcome today’s challenges and get the Su-75 onto the production line.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Russian Su-57 fighter.

What are the key features of the Su-75 Checkmate fighter?

The Su-75 Checkmate is a Russian-developed fifth-generation ultra-maneuverable, multi-role, light fighter. It stands out for its aerodynamic design, reminiscent of the structure of the 3M22 Zircon hypersonic missile, and the alleged integration of artificial intelligence in its system. Its phase 2 plasma engine, equipped with a digital-electronic control system, is expected to enhance its flight characteristics.

How does the Su-75 compare to the Su-57?

The Su-75, still under development, is expected to surpass the Su-57 in terms of size, weight, maneuverability and flight characteristics, thanks to its latest-generation engine. Although the attention is directed toward the Su-57, it is expected that after the current period of tension, Russia will redirect its efforts toward the production and improvement of the Su-75.

What technical advantages does the Su-75 design offer?

The Su-75’s design is inspired by the 3M22 Zircon missile, particularly the air duct that runs through the fuselage to the engine, a feature that withstands extreme speeds and considerable overloads. This structure decreases the susceptibility to overheating of the airframe at high speeds, contributing to the efficiency of the aircraft.

What are the main challenges facing the Su-75 project?

The Su-75 project faces significant challenges, both technical and financial. The limited availability of essential components such as integrated circuits, semiconductors and chips, as well as the lack of clarity on the resolution of the absolute azimuth problem, represent technical obstacles. On the other hand, the financial situation, aggravated by the increase in Russian military spending due to the conflict in Ukraine, threatens the availability of funds for the development of prototypes.

How is the maneuverability of the Su-75 compared to other fighters?

The Su-75 is anticipated to be extraordinarily maneuverable, matching the reputation of Russian fighters in this regard. Its maneuverability is compared to that of the MiG-21, a Soviet fighter remembered with respect by American pilots for its superiority in the Vietnam War. The “Zircon” air ducts on the Su-75 contribute to its ability to withstand 10G payloads, higher than the usual 8G.