DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Rostec is holding talks with Emirati businesses about co-producing the Su-75 Checkmate, and the Russian defense giant plans to create an unmanned version of the fighter jet, a company official said Monday at the Dubai Airshow.

During a press briefing, Viktor Kladov, who leads Rostec’s international cooperation and regional policy department, said the company held talks at the show with the Tawazun Economic Council, Mubadala Investment Company and Edge Group about the production of composite materials and telecommunications technology.

“Russia doesn’t set any political tag or conditions for cooperation with countries,” Kladov said, a likely jab at the U.S. over export restrictions.

He added that the company started considering producing light and cheap fifth-generation fighters after a market assessment showed a demand in the Middle East. “This sector is empty except for F-35, which is co-produced between 22 countries. Even for the U.S., producing on their own is quite expensive,” he told reporters.

Asked why Russia is turning to the Untied Arab Emirates to co-produce the aircraft, Kladov would only say: “Because Emirates have very keen interest of new technologies.”

The Checkmate is standing at a static display in a closed box at the Dubai Airshow, which is taking place Nov. 14-18. The showroom floor version is an experimental model. Production is expected to start by 2026.

Russian aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi previously showed off the jet during Russia’s MAKS 2021 aviation show in July. Rostec owns Sukhoi parent company United Aircraft Corporation. Its manufacturer called the single-engine aircraft a fifth-generation fighter with an open-architecture design.

“The Checkmate combines low visibility and excellent equipment, and is ideal in terms of combat effectiveness and [cost per] flight hour,” Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov said in a statement. “All these factors make the aircraft a unique offer in the international arms market.”

Kladov said there are plans for an unmanned version of the aircraft. “We foresee that maybe in five years, we have the unmanned version of Checkmate controlled by artificial intelligence,” he told reporters.

At the 2017 UAE defense show IDEX, Russia announced that Rostec would co-develop a fifth-generation light combat fighter with the UAE. It’s unclear whether the Checkmate is the result of this agreement, as company officials would not provide a clear answer.

Agnes Helou was a Middle East correspondent for Defense News. Her interests include missile defense, cybersecurity, the interoperability of weapons systems and strategic issues in the Middle East and Gulf region.

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