Su-75 goes up against Indian Tejas Mk2 and is already losing

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Indian outlets are buzzing with reports that Moscow is making another push to sell the Su-75 Checkmate fighter to New Delhi, despite not having a single prototype to show. Russia is eyeing the Indian Air Force’s aging MiG-29s, hoping the Su-75 will be chosen as the replacement. However, many believe that, for now, the Su-75 “brings a knife to a gunfight.” 

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This development is highlighted by the Indian resource, which remains tight-lipped about its sources. Given the recent happenings, particularly the meeting between Putin and Modi, it’s likely that the Russian pitch was discussed during this engagement. Despite the redesign efforts showcased by Russia in 3D, the chances of India being swayed appear quite slim.

Interestingly, the promotional tactics of the Russians seem to have fallen flat. A video showcasing pilots from countries like India, Russia, and Iran awestruck by a fighter jet soaring above them doesn’t quite hit the mark. Ironically, none of these nations currently possess even one unit of this aircraft.  

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At present, it’s challenging to comment on the capabilities of the Su-75 because there’s no verified performance data, given the absence of a functional prototype. Even if we hypothetically assume the Russians’ claims about the Su-75 to be accurate, it’s unlikely that Russia will sell this aircraft to India due to the “Made in India” policy.

India is currently equipping its army with the homegrown Tejas Mk1 fighter jet and is working on the development of the Mk2 version. The Mk2 is slated to replace the aging fleet of Russian MiG-29s and is also set to take over from the Mirage 2000 and Jaguar aircraft.  

This initiative is designed to meet India’s requirement for around 200 new combat aircraft, potentially offering significant long-term advantages in terms of self-reliance and technology transfer. Russia’s renewed focus on including India likely arises from the absence of confirmed international buyers for its Checkmate program. 

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India has already allocated funds for the development of a 5th generation AMCA fighter program and is also advancing on the Tejas MkII. Together with the Tejas Mk1A, these new jets will replace nearly 30% of India’s fighter fleet by 2035. The AMCA squadrons are anticipated to eventually replace the older Su-30MKI squadrons starting in 2040. 

One of Russia’s key selling points for the Yasen-M class submarines is the touted cost, estimated by local sources to be between $30-35 million USD. However, this seems quite optimistic, especially given the sharp rise in prices for materials, consumables, and electronics over the past decade. 

Realistically, this figure is likely just the base cost. Once you add in avionics, fire control systems, pilot helmets, weaponry, and other essentials, the total price could easily double to around USD 70 million. This would diminish its cost advantage, and Russia would then need to demonstrate that the Su-57’s capabilities surpass those of its competitors—such as the F-22, F-35, KAAN, KF-21, J-20, and J-31. 

Photo credit: Kuntal Biswas

Could the Su-75 make its way to India? While it’s possible, it seems unlikely. New Delhi has numerous other options to consider. Moreover, India is advancing its own AMCA program, indicating that Moscow might face challenges selling the Checkmate in a market where local development is already progressing rapidly.


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