Team Antonov’s AN-70
The AN-70 aimed to offer A400M class operational performance or better, for about 40% less cost per aircraft. Total cargo weight is touted as 35-47 tonnes, and depending on the load carried, range is touted as 3,000 – 5,100 km at cruising speed of 700 – 750 km/h. If flown empty in ferry configuration, that range extends to 8,000 km. Redundant fly-by-wire controls and “glass cockpit” avionics, pioneered on the AN-124-100 Ruslan, have been added to the AN-70 as well. Its 14,000 shp Progress/Motor Sich D-27 turboprop engines use Aerosila’s CV-27 8+6 blade configuration of contra-rotating, reversible-pitch propellers, allowing STOL (Short Take-Off and Landing) capabilities from unpaved runways only 600-800m long at a reduced 20t cargo weight. At full load, the aircraft can use 1550-1800 meter runways.A spacious 15,000 sq. foot/ 425 sq. meter cargo area can be used to deliver up to 300 soldiers at absolute maximum capacity, or evacuate up to 200 or so casualties requiring minimal support. More likely scenarios would involve about 130-170 fully-equipped troops. Onboard loading equipment consists of 4 overhead rail electric motor hoists with a total cargo lifting capacity of 12 tonnes, and 2 onboard electric winches with 1.5 tonne traction. An easily removable upper deck and/or roller conveyers, can be added as options to simplify container handling.
By comparison, the A400M will have a maximum capacity of 37 tonnes if it lives up to its full specifications, something that has become less probable due to airframe weight gains. The A400M’s range is also imperiled, though specifications give it about 3,300 km range at full payload. This would give the AN-70 an advantage of over 1,500 km at a similar load.
Compared to the AN-70, the A400M is about 4.6 meters longer (45.1m vs. 40.55m), with a wingspan that’s 1.6 meters shorter (42.4m vs. 44.06m). A400M active cargo space is less tall (3.85m vs. 4.1m) and 0.9m shorter than the AN-70 (17.71m vs. 18.6m), though overall internal space is slightly longer (23.11m vs. 22.4m) due to a ramp that’s 1.6m longer.Both aircraft significantly outclass the smaller C-130J Hercules, which is limited to a load of 21 tonnes. That’s an issue in an era where survivable armored vehicles tend to be at least 25 tonnes, and are often 30-35 tonnes.
On the other hand, the C-130J’s flyaway price tag of $65-80 million/ EUR 56 million is less than either the A400M (EUR 120-140 million est.) or the intended cost of the AN-70 (at 40% less than the A400M, EUR 72-86 million). *C-130Js now cost around 100M min,look at how much our 6 cost us
28-03-2014 · India had recently inducted six C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, which were bought from the US at the cost of around Rs 6000 crore ($1.1 billion)
While all 3 aircraft are considered to be medium tactical transports, new programs for 20t class transports (Embraer KC-390, Irkut/HAL MRTA) and the closure of the USA’s C-17 line, will leave the A400M and AN-70 turboprops, and the turbofan-powered IL-76MF, segmented in a different “medium-heavy” class of strategic transports.
The European FLA/A400M program has been criticized for its rejection of the AN-70, but there are always considerations beyond the base financials. Development of domestic aerospace industries and technologies, albeit at greater expense, is always a factor. Then there’s the longer-term market forecast that saw the American C-17 program reaching its end, leaving a decade or 2 of dominance for a transport that could bridge the gap between strategic and tactical transport options. Who would produce it? Financing the development and refinement of a critical power projection tool that would be likely to see service with Russia is a project not to be undertaken lightly, especially if it means that Ukrainian and/or Russian firms would also be able to compete for future production business in a key aerospace segment.
They almost succeeded in killing their rival. Unfortunately, “almost” doesn’t count.The AN-70 has kept to its goal of 40% lower costs than the A400M’s original projections, but the A400M’s price has shot upward, leading to a difference that makes an A400M almost 3 times as expensive: $67 million vs. about $180 million, at current exchange rates. What’s emerging is a plane that can be bought for a price close to the C-130J’s, but with base cargo performance that will beat the A400M.
If Russia manages to repair its growing image as an unreliable supplier of poor-quality equipment, the AN-70’s performance and cost could make it an attractive competitor for a number of customers around the world.
Past AN-70 projections have involved around 60 aircraft for the Ukraine, and 160 or so for Russia. So far, only 5 aircraft have been ordered by the Ukraine, but Russia’s 60-plane order is a huge step forward for the platform.
It remains to be seen whether actual contracts from the 2 countries come close to those past projections.