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An-71 Madcap

The Antonov An-72 (NATO name Coaler) was designed in the mid-1970's as a replacement for the An-26 (NATO name Curl), a turboprop powered light tactical transport aircraft that served in great numbers in almost every Soviet bloc country. The An-72 is an unusual design with its two 14,3000lb ZMKB Progress D-36 turbofans mounted high on the wing, enabling the engine exhaust to be directed over the wing to improve STOL performance. Capable of carrying a payload of 10 tons, or 68 passengers, the An-72 can also carry a 23mm gun pod, a UB-23M rocket launcher or four 100kg bombs internally. In military service since the mid-1980's, the An-72 has proved to be an effective and reliable light tactical transport aircraft.

The An-71 Madcap was a modified An-72 with an AEW radome on the forward swept tailfin.The aircraft also featured substantially extended wingspan -- about six meters greater than the An-72 -- and other minor refinements. Three aircraft were built before the An-71 was cancelled in favor of the twin-turboprop Yak-44 [which was in turn cancelled in 1993].

The air crew of the aircraft includes three people, and work with the systems they ensure three operators. Maximum radar range of the An-71 is 350 km, the height of the targets from 0km to 30 km, the time of scanning circular sector (360) is 10 seconds, the standard range of detection of an aerial target of the type "fighter" it is 200 km system it is capable of simultaneously accompanying to 120 purposes. The accuracy of the determination of coordinates in the horizontal plane is 2.5 km, the coefficient of the suppression of backscatter from the earth 50-60 dB. In flight at the standard operational altitude of 8000 m, the speed is equal to 500-530 km/h, which ensures duration of flight 4.5-5.0 h (with the reserve fuel stock on 1 h of flight).

Western discussions of this aircraft generally suggestit was intended for service on the "Tbilisi" (AKA "Admiral Kuznetsov") aircraft carrier. True AEW capability on the new carriers hinged on the development of a long-range fixed wing aircraft similar to the U.S. Navy's E-2C Hawkeye. To support such an aircraft, the Soviets would have to equip their carriers with steam catapults.

In fact, the An-71 was initally developed to support "operational-tactical" air combat requires of the Air Force and Air Defense forces.According to the estimation of Defense Ministry and Aviation Industry Ministry institutes, the application An-71 makes it possible to increase the combat effectiveness of fighter aircraft 2.5-3 times. Aircraft can have the noncombat application: for relaying of information about the air situation, air traffic control in the unmastered regions, identification of above-water and air objects, conducting of search operations and the like An-71, its system and the complexes do not require the application of special means of maintenance and permit implementation of prolonged (to 30 days) operation of the machine separately from of fundamental base.

A parallel requirement emerged during 1982-83 for a carrier based tactical AWACS platform and consideration was given to using a navalised version of the An-71. After some deliberation it was decided that a specialised carrier capable aircraft was needed which resulted in the design of the E-2 Hawkeye lookalike, the Yak-44E.

In view of the absence of financing, work on the creation and finishing of the An-71 was frozen at the end 1990. The Antonov complex was not accepted for service [The same fate befell the Il-76PP]. The An-71 was shown in Moscow in 1995 on the stands of ANTK im. Antonov and NPO "Vega". The unsusual layout of the basic An-72 - with its overwing mounted engines, coupled with the odd-looking location of the radome on the fin makes the NATO Air Standards Co-ordinating Committee reporting name of MADCAP seem rather appropriate.




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