During the Russia-Africa forum, held last week, Dmitry Shugaev, director of Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC), told state news agency RIA Novosti that Nigeria has shown interest in acquiring Russian fighter jets, including the new fifth generation model Su-75 “Checkmate”, still in development phase.
Presented at the MAKS Air Show, in July 2021, the Su-75 is the latest project by Sukhoi, which is one of the divisions of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) group – in turn controlled by the state conglomerate Rostec.
The single-engine, stealth-designed fighter is proposed primarily for export. The price of the aircraft is also considered competitive, with a unit value of around US$ 30 million.
“During negotiations with the Nigerian side, the partners expressed interest in acquiring modern fighters. The foreign customer highly values the tactical and technical characteristics of the national aircraft. Checkmate is also under the focus of their attention,” Shugaev told RIA .
If Nigeria really moves forward in negotiations on the Su-75, this would be the first case of an African nation acquiring fifth-generation fighters.
The viability of such a contract, however, may be hampered by geopolitical issues, given Lagos’ relationship with the United States, which supplies the country with weapons, in addition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which isolated Moscow from the West.
Despite the Nigerians’ interest in the Sukhoi fighter, Shugaev mentioned that it is still “too early to talk about contracts”.
Previously scheduled to take place this year, the first flight of the Su-75 was postponed to 2024. According to Russian media reports, the first production aircraft could be completed in mid-2026, followed by mass manufacturing of the model the following year.
Russia is also trying to find strategic partners to accelerate the development of the program such as India and countries in the Middle East.