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An-71 Madcap - Flight Testing

In the 1st quarter of 1983, after the examination of technical proposal and TTZ, work began on the design of aircraft. Directives established the following periods: working design - 3rd quarter of 1984; preparation for production - 1st to 3rd quarter of 1984; production of components and aggregates - 1st to 4th quarter of 1984; final assembling, installation of systems, finalizing and the transfer of aircraft to the flight tests - 3rd quarter of 1985. The decision about building of the An-71 DRLO aircraft was signed on January 9, 1984.

Three aircraft were built simultaneously : two flying and one for the static tests. The first An-71 (period of delivery - 2nd quarter of 1985) was modified from the fourth experiment An-72. During its career as an An-72 it had been fitted with the bigger nosecone of a production aircraft, which gave it a 'pelican beak' look but it was still some 990mm shorter, so on conversion to the An-71 it was lengthened accordingly with a 990-mm insert before the wing between 14 and 15 frames, and became aircraft number 01/CCCP-780151. The second An-71 intended for static tests - which started in April 1985 - was converted from the first An-72 static test airframe. In the beginning May 1985 its first loads were carried out. The third An-71 (period of delivery - 4t quarter of 1985) was built by the alteration of a series production An-72 by the Kharkov aircraft factory.

Building experimental machines and their transfer to tests moved strictly according to plan. Three An-71 models were consecutively tested, which so differed from each other in the characteristics, that it is possible to speak of the generations of these complexes. With the creation of the first RTK model attention was paid to its radar, whose basic components were arranged in the third and first sections of the fuselage. The content of equipment was established on An-71 (#01) immediately after the end of the first stage of the tests of the aircraft. Experimental data was obtained that soon changed the idea of developers about the nature of interaction with the underlying Earth's surface (area relief and special geophysical features). It became clear there was a need to change the radar and computational components.

Within the shortest period the the necessary changes in composition and construction of components were introduced, and the"second" generation complex appeared, which was established on An-71 (#03). The equipment was placed its in three sections of fuselage. The increased demands of the customer for the guarantee of interaction of the DRLO aircraft with the means of target destruction, according to the degree of the automation of the work of operators, and also the expansion of the circle of the decided tasks (the aircraft had become one of the components of a Reconnaissance-Strike Complex) led to the creation of the third model RTK, which was established on An-71 (#03) during an interruption in conducting of flight tests. Considerable attention was paid to the onboard complexes. Automated characteristics made it possible to substantially reduce the time of studies, to increase the authenticity of measurements, to increase their volume, to conduct both paired and group measurements taking into account the reaction of systems to the previous action.

The first An-71 flew in the middle of June 1985, and received the registration designation USSR-780151. Aircraft 01 made its maiden flight from the runway of the Kiev Air plant on 12 June 1985 and made a successful flight to the airfield of Gostomel. It flew 75 times to the end of 1985 logging 117 flying hours. It had fully completed aircraft systems and a partial mock-up RTK. On June 23, 1985 took place the solemn roll-out. Prior to the end of 1985 the An-71 carried out 75 flights with a duration of 117 hours. The flight tests of this machine with the experimental model RTK began in May 1986. On February 19, 1986 the roll-out of An-71 (#03) took place, which received registration designation USSR-780361. By the end, the An-71 program executed 387 flights (650 flying hours) in the machine of #01 and 362 flights (380 flying hours) in the machine of #03.

Flight tests at high angles of attack were carried out fully in April 1988. These confirmed the satisfactory stability parameters and controllability An-71 in these regimes. Test flights were conducted not only from the Kiev airfields, but also in other regions, including Central Asia, the Caucasus, Volga Region and the Crimea, above different underlying surfaces and in all seasons.

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