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Antonov An-70

Medium-range transport aircraft

An-70

The An-70 is broadly similar in terms of performance and capabilities to the Airbus A400M

 
 
Country of origin Ukraine / Russia
Entered service 2015
Crew 3 - 5 men
Dimensions and weight
Length 40.07 m
Wing span 44.06 m
Height 16.38 m
Weight (empty) 73 t
Weight (maximum take off) 130 t
Engines and performance
Engines 4 x Progress D-27 propfans
Engine power 4 x 14 000 shp
Maximum speed 890 km/h
Cruising speed 700 - 750 km/h
Service ceiling 12 km
Range (with 20 t payload) 6 600 km
Range (with maximum payload) 3 000 km
Ferry range 8 000 km
Payload
Maximum payload 47 t
Standard payload 30 t
Troops 300 troops, 206 litters, or 110 paratroopers
Vehicles ?
Cargo compartment dimensions ?

 

   The Antonov An-70 is a Ukrainian new generation medium-range transport aircraft. Development of this heavy load and short take-off and landing aircraft began in the early 90s. The An-70 was jointly developed by Ukrainian and Russian companies. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the Antonov Design Bureau suffered from funding problems, as well as many other military factories, and the An-70 project was close to a failure. Despite various difficulties two prototypes were created and the An-70 made its first flight in 1994. This cargo aircraft was designed to replace the ageing An-12. It is broadly similar in terms of performance and capabilities to the Airbus A400M. At one time the An-70 was even proposed to replace the then-troubled A400M. It is also believed to be a main competitor to the upgraded Russian Il-76MF.

   In 1999 during one of the test flights, An-70 came into collision with the An-72, which accompanied it. The An-72 managed to make an emergency landing, but the An-70 crashed and was completely destroyed. All crew members died. Investigation has found out, that the crash was due to mistake of the pilots, so this fact did not affected the project as badly as the second one. In 2001, 20-30 seconds after  the take-off pilots had to make an emergency landing outside the airfield. As a result the airplane was badly damaged.

   In 2002 Russia and Ukraine agreed on a joint production of these military cargo aircraft. The Russian government showed interest in obtaining 160 of these airplanes for its military. However in 2006 because of economic problems and tough political relationship between Russia and Ukraine, Russia has left the project in favor to indigenous Il-76MF and Il-476 transports.

   For a number of years the future of this project was uncertain due to a lack of funding and orders.

   In 2008 a larger and turbofan-powered version, the An-70-600, was co-developed with China. The end result was a Y-20 military transport, that was adopted by China's air force in 2016.

   In 2009 Russia signed a deal with Ukraine to renew development of the An-70. Russia reportedly resumed funding. It was planned that production will be carried out at Kazan aviation plant. During the same year it was announced, that 2 aircraft will be completed in Ukraine for the Ukrainian Air Force. First delivery was expected in 2011. The second aircraft was scheduled to be delivered in 2012. In 2015 the An-70 was officially adopted by the Ukrainian air force. The An-70 was also proposed for NATO and European markets, as well as civilian operators, however with no success. This military transport aircraft failed to gain any orders. It was clear from the start that  this aircraft is unlikely to achieve the success that it deserves.

   The An-70 has typical airlifter layout with four propfan engines. It is the first time, when a large cargo aircraft is powered by such kind of propulsion. Each Progress D-27 engine has a dual contra-rotating propellers (as on famous Tu-95 strategic bomber and the An-22 Antei heavy transport aircraft) and generates 14 000 hp. The An-70 has 20-30% better fuel economy, comparing with modern turbojet aircraft. In 2003 during the MAKS air show this plane attracted attention of visitors with a very unusual sound. Developers explained this as a result of non-traditional shape of propellers. However during test flights the engines were not noted for reliability. Until 2002 each of the four engines failed 22 times.

   The An-70 has a fly-by-wire system and features a glass cockpit with all electronic instruments.

   This aircraft can be operated on various types of airfields. It is capable of landing on soft ground and even snow. The An-70 can operate from poorly equipped airfields without any special ground facilities. It has confirmed its ability to use 600 m long unpaved runways at reduced cargo weight.

   This military cargo aircraft is slightly larger, than the Airbus A400M, but considerably smaller than the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III. The An-70's pressurized hold has an inbuilt cargo-handling system. It can be outfitted with seats for 300 troops or racks for 206 litters as alternatives to cargo, vehicles and even helicopters. The An-70 can airdrop individual items up to a limit of 20 000 kg. This transport plane can carry 20 t of cargo over a distance of 3 000 km. Maximum service range is 8 000 km.

   Due to Russian military actions in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, the joint project with Russia was finally stopped and the An-70 never reached mass production. In 2018 prototype of a new An-77 was revealed. It is a Ukrainian proposed version of the An-70, which is planned to uses Western components instead of Russian. It is planned to be fitted with Western turbojet engines+.

 

Zaal Tchkuaseli

   Article by ZAAL TCHKUASELI

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An-70

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