Russia Teases 'Fundamentally New' Military Aircraft to Be Unveiled

Russia will unveil a military aircraft next week it says will spark the interest of other countries "including our competitors abroad."

A cryptic marketing campaign is promoting the project that was developed by the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), which is part of Rostec, Russia's state-owned defense and technology development group.

The plane will be revealed on Tuesday, July 20 on the first day of MAKC-2021, a biennial airshow held at Zhukovsky airport around 25 miles southeast of Moscow, Russia.

In teasing its release, a press statement by Rostec gave props to Russia as one of the few countries in the world which had "full-cycle technologies for the production of advanced aircraft systems." It says the upcoming unveiling will be of a "fundamentally new military aircraft."

It also praised Russia's status as a world leader in "making combat aircraft," suggesting that the new plane could be a fighter jet.

"We are convinced that the new product developed by UAC specialists will arouse genuine interest not only in our country but in other regions of the world, including our competitors abroad," the statement added.

Chess is a motif of the aircraft's promotion which is surrounded by mystery. At midnight Monday, the UAC website launched a countdown clock next to an image of a black knight chess piece. It invited web users to "turn the chessboard" and view a 34-second trailer.

Not much is revealed in the video, which starts with a man looking meaningfully out of a window in Dubai before the clip cuts to an unidentified plane approaching from a dusty horizon.

Все проще чем кажется #ОАК #uac #Ростех #rostec #МАКС2021#checkmate

Кажется, что-то намечается😏😉 pic.twitter.com/ylh7niDpZX

— United Aircraft Corp (@UAC_Russia) July 11, 2021

The video then flits between a chess game in New Delhi being interrupted by an urgent text, an unspecified serviceman in the Andes being approached by a helicopter.

Crews wearing the uniforms of different countries are seen in the background of the front landing gear of the aircraft and the different locations shown could signify possible markets for it. "Coming soon" reads the caption before fading to black.

Adding to the intrigue is a tweet in Russian on the UAC Twitter account that says: "everything is easier than it seems. #checkmate. Something is planned."

Building on the ambiguity is the tweet's placement next to a knight chess piece which is floating in the air. On that image is a phrase in English, which says, "guys, everything is simpler than you think." There is no mention of the aircraft on the UAC's English language Twitter account.

Meanwhile, the image of the landscape the chess piece was floating over was identified by Steve Trimble, defense editor at Aviation Week, as a famous hoax UFO photo from the 1970s, which was also used on the TV show The X-Files.

This reference could be a nod to the recent Pentagon report of unidentified objects that have puzzled the U.S. military.

Meanwhile, Defenseworld.net noted that Rostec had previously said it was developing a single-engine fighter jet.

It reported that speculation also included other possibilities such as a down-sized Su-57, or a 4.5 generation jet to challenge the F-16 Viper and the Chinese-Pakistani JF-17 Block III. The Drive reported that the shadow of an aircraft over water in Rostec's promotional video was similar to the Mikoyan MiG-35 multirole fighter jet.

The MAKS airshow showcases a range of aircraft and military hardware, mostly from Russia and countries of the former Soviet Union, and runs until July 25.

Newsweek has contacted Rostec for comment.

MAKS 2019
Aircraft on display at the MAKS 2019 International Aviation and Space Salon outside Moscow. Russian agencies have said that year's MAKS 2021 show will see the unveiling of a new military aircraft. ALEXANDER NEMENOV/Getty