The French ministry of defence last month chartered a pre-production An-70 transport aircraft from Antonov to move equipment from Africa to France, which Antonov said expanded the aircraft’s operating environment.
Antonov said that the flight took place between 22 and 26 September, with the aircraft flying from Kyiv-Antonov airport to Bangui in the Central African Republic. This flight lasted 9 hours and 2 minutes. Once in Bangui, the An-70 took on board 23.6 tons of cargo, including a satellite ground station. It then landed in Ndjamena in Chad.
According to Antonov test pilot Viktor Goncharov, the crew captain, “from Ndjamena airport we took off under a temperature of +33 degrees Celsius with a take-off weight close to the maximum. The aircraft confirmed designed data of the take-off parameters including length of the runway distance. An-70 also showed good climb rate.”
After a six hour flight, the An-70 arrived at Istres in France to drop off the cargo. It then returned to the Kyiv-Antonov airport with an intermediate stop in Leipzig, Germany.
During the round trip, the An-70 was in the air for more than 20 hours and flew over 13 600 km. “On-board handling equipment was tested under actual operating conditions. All the tasks were performed successfully,” Antonov said.
The An-70 has a maximum cargo capacity of 47 tonnes and a cargo hold size of 425 cubic meters. Thanks to its propfan engines, it has a very high cruising speed and can take off and land in short distances (6-800 metres). Its capabilities are very similar to that of the Airbus Military A400M Atlas in service with the French Air Force.
The An-70 is produced by Antonov in the Ukraine, which in January this year authorised production for the country’s military. Russia’s Ministry of Defence had planned to purchase 60 An-70s by 2020 but it removed the aircraft from its national armament programme in March this year. Russia was jointly involved in An-70 development.