Antonov An-70

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Antonov An-70 in 2008.jpg
Role Military transport aircraft
Design group Antonov
Built by Aviant
First flight 16 December 1994[1]
Status completed state tests
Produced 1994 - 1996
2012 - present
Number built 2 prototypes
Unit cost
€67–70 million[2]

The Antonov An-70 is a four-engine medium-range transport aircraft, and the first large aircraft to be powered by propfan engines. It has been developed in the late 1980s by the Antonov design bureau to replace the obsolete An-12 military transport aircraft. However, the dissolution of the Soviet Union prevented the mass production of the type. Maiden flight of the first prototype took place on 16 December 1994 in Kiev, now independent Ukraine, and the plane was lost in less than a year. Numerous further attempts to start production have been so far unsuccessful.


Antonov An-70 in 2009

The An-70 is a high-wing monoplane with four wing-mounted propfan engines, it has a full glass cockpit and fly-by-wire controls. The aircraft has a 19.1 metre (22.4 metre with the ramp) x 4 metre x 4.1 metre cargo space and can carry 47 ton of cargo,[citation needed] or approximately 300 troops or 200 injured personnel.[2] Powered by four Progress D-27 propfan engines, each turning a pair of contra-rotating scimitar propellers.

The An-70 was the first Eastern-bloc transport aircraft to be built according to the new IAC AP-25 norms that conformed with JAR-25. This would allow civilian certification in both Western Europe and North America. Another first was the use of a MIL-STD-1553B-compatible data bus, which allows NATO avionics and defensive suites to be installed[citation needed]

Early development and testing history

Work on the An-70 began in Soviet Union in 1978.[2] There were plans to establish serial production of the model in both Kiev and Samara, Russia, guaranteeing employment of about 80,000 people in the two countries. The initial contract to build the An-70 was concluded in May 1989.[3] The Soviet government had shown interest in purchasing 160 planes for its military. But in the post-Soviet days of reduced military budgets in Russia, funding for the An-70 was cut. Antonov decided to proceed with self-funding.[citation needed]

1995 incident

The first prototype was lost during its fourth flight on 10 Feb 1995 in a mid-air collision with an Antonov An-72 being used as a chase plane, the test crew of seven were killed. The aircraft proved so promising during its first three flights that Antonov decided to press on and converted the static-test prototype into a flying prototype. The second airframe took to the air only 21 months after the crash of the first one, on 8 December 1996.[4][5]

An-7X and Future Large Aircraft (FLA)

The An-70 was first considered in the early 1990s as an FLA-platform but was then rejected. In October 1997, the German defense minister Volker Rühe announced his intention to study whether the An-70 could be the basis for the Future Large Aircraft (FLA). Rühe wanted to use the An-70 based programme as example of the German foreign policy in Eastern Europe. The German Government was searching for routes to provide industrial aid to Eastern Europe.[6] In December 1997, France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine agreed to evaluate the An-70 as a candidate for the FLA programme.[7]

Antonov proposed a "westernised" version of the An-70, the An-7X. The German government tasked DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (DASA) with a study, the purpose of which was to evaluate the An-70 and assess if it would fulfil the European Staff Requirement for a common tactical airlifter. DASA depended on data provided by Antonov and was not able to test-fly the aircraft themselves. However they conducted wind-tunnel tests and the results confirmed the data. According to the DASA study from 1999 the An-70 fulfilled the ESR, and that westernisation is possible, but work in key areas would have been necessary and risks existed. Areas identified include the introduction of a full-authority digital engine control, integrated engine monitoring system, prop synchronising system, completely new cockpit, new flight control system computer, replacement of CIS military equipment, replacement of the digital flap/slat-system computer, fuel-jettison system and in-flight refuelling capability, a possible lengthening of the axles of the landing gear, a new digitally controlled braking and steering, new wires for the electrical system, the auxiliary power unit, the cargo-handling system and the loadmaster station. DASA recommended a change in the manufacturing method of the CFRP-components. Also the fuselage manufacturing-method was considered uneconomical. They were not able to assess the manufacturing of the wing because no data was available. DASA stated that the manufacture meets ISO 9000 quality standards but the East-West processes and procedures have to be harmonised. German, Ukrainian and Russian companies had formed the joint-venture “Airtruck” to plan and manage the modifications needed to westernise the An-70. German Companies in Airtruck included DASA Aircraft Services Lemwerder, Autoflug, BMW, Rolls-Royce and Liebherr Aerospace.[8]

The German government, for political reasons, preferred the An-70-based solution, while the industry, DASA, preferred the A400M from the military branch of Airbus. In the meantime France, Italy and Spain have also shown interest in the An-70. Other contenders for the FLA were the Boeing C-17 and Lockheed Martin C-130J.[9] Had the An-70 been chosen, fifty percent of the aircraft would have been manufactured by Airbus; in the end, the A400M was chosen for the FLA project.[7]

2001 incident

To make matters worse, shortly after losing its bid, the second An-70 prototype made a crash landing on its belly in January 2001 after losing power in two engines on take-off during cold weather testing in Omsk, and was severely damaged. It looked as though the A400M was now going to have the market all to itself. But Antonov recovered the crashed aircraft and repaired it in record time, but the project still lacked funding.[10][11][12][13]

Recent development

In 2002 Russia and Ukraine had agreed on a 50–50 risk-sharing deal on production.[1] In May 2005 a senior Russian Air Force officials claimed that bilateral development and further testing of the An-70 would continue.[citation needed]

In April 2006 Russia announced its complete withdrawal from the project. The head of the Russian Air Force, Vladimir Mikhaylov, claimed that the An-70 has grown into a heavy, expensive cargo plane. The Russian military plans to use the Ilyushin Il-76MF, which reportedly costs half as much as the An-70. After the Orange Revolution in late 2004, and with Ukraine openly aiming for NATO membership, political will for the project evaporated. Russia has provided around 60 percent of the estimated $5 billion invested in the project to date.[14][15][16]

The project continued but work was delayed by Russia's $60 million unpaid debts on the project.[17] Russia resumed cooperation and restored funding on the An-70 project in late 2009.[18] However Russia did not pay its forfeit penalties, according to Antonov.[3]

In August 2010, it was reported that user testing was taking place, and that the Ukrainian Air Force expected to take delivery of the first An-70 in 2011. Volga-Dnepr Airlines signed an agreement for a possible purchase of up to five An-70T aircraft.[19] A requirement for 60 An-70s was included in Russia's 2011–2020 national armament programme when it was issued in December 2010.[20] After an extensive series of modifications, including revised avionics (which allowed the flight crew to be reduced from five to four) and changes to the aircraft's propellers to improve reliability and decrease noise, the second prototype An-70 flew again on 27 September 2012 and took part in the Aviasit XI airshow at Kiev.[21][22] In June 2012, it was decided to carry out assembly of the An-70 at the KAPO factory in Kazan, Russia. The aircraft's wings, tail surfaces and engine nacelles would be built by Antonov in Kiev.[22][23]

Production of the first new fuselages in 16 years began in December 2012,[24] and tests were completed by April 2014.[25]

In March 2015 Russia Defence ministry declared that they are ruling out the An-70 for state procurement. They also declared that, as in their opinion, Ukraine has withdrawn from the military and defence agreements signed before the crisis between them by completing the plane without Russian involvement, they would request return of 2.95 billion rubles that Russian government had spent on An-70 project.[26]


Proposed An-112KC variant
A proposed aerial refueling version of the An-70, except with two jet engines from the team of U.S. Aerospace and Antonov for the U.S. Air Force's KC-X program.[27][28] The USAF rejected the proposal,[29] and the appeal was later dismissed.[30][31]
Program to develop this variant was launched at the 2015 Paris Air Show. [32] This variant will essentially be a four jet engine powered heavy-medium transport with modernized NATO- compatible western cockpit, slightly enlarged wings, winglets and ariel refueling capabilities.[33] The An-188 is intended to fill the gap between a C-130 and C-17 while being a direct competitor to the A400M. Plans include incorporating a western engine option (as well as a Ukrainian one) to appeal to western markets and reduce dependency on eastern markets. [34]


  • Ukrainian Air Force – In 2010 two deliveries were expected in 2011 and 2012. However, as of 2015 the status of this order is unknown.[19]

Specifications (An-70)

Data from Back in the Air[23]

General characteristics


See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era


  1. 1.0 1.1 Antonov-70
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Economic court in Kyiv decides to collect 30.9 million rubles from Russian Defense Ministry in favor of Antonov State Enterprise, Interfax-Ukraine (27 August 2014)
  4. Antonov 70 – An uncertain Future
  5. Russia, Ukraine to revive An-70 joint project – defense minister
  6. Berlin airlift impasse, “Flight International”, 13 May 1998
  7. 7.0 7.1 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  8. Heading West, “Flight International”, 9 June 1999
  9. New identity, “Flight International”, 14 July 1999
  10. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
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  13. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  14. Russia to pull out of An-70 plane production
  15. (Russian) Russian doesn't need An-70
  16. Ukraine Express June
  17. Implementation of An-70 project is hindered by Russia's debts, Kyiv Post, 17 November 2009. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  18. Butowski Air International December 2012, p. 86.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  20. Butowski Air International December 2012, pp. 86–87.
  21. Butowski Air International December 2012, pp. 86–88.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Butowski Air International December 2012, pp. 88–89.
  25. "Antonov completed state joint tests of the AN−70" Antonov, 10 April 2014. Accessed: 21 April 2014.
  26. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  27. Trimble, Stephen. "US Aerospace appeals against KC-X exclusion, blames USAF ‘conspiracy’". Flight International, 5 August 2010.
  28. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  29. "USAF excludes “late” KC-X bid". Australian Aviation, 9 August 2010.
  30. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  31. Bennett, John T. "GAO Denies U.S. Aerospace-Antonov KC-X Protest". Defense News, 6 October 2010.
  35. Jackson 2003, pp. 468–469.
  • Butowski, Piotr. "Back in the Air". Air International, Vol.83 No, 6, December 2012. ISSN 0306-5634. pp. 86–89.
  • Jackson, Paul. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 2003–2004. Coulsdon, UK: Jane's Information Group, 2003. ISBN 0-7106-2537-5.

External links