Murphy's Law: May 4, 2003


Russia's military procurement practices have long been known as among the most wasteful in history. Wasteful spending and regularly missed deadlines were the norm for many decades. But recently, yet another Soviet era procurement program finally came to an end. In 1975, the Soviet Union began developing the An-70 air transport. At the time, the idea of developing propeller driven transports that could land on very short airfields was a hot idea. The US began working on a similar project (that soon died.) But the Russians kept at it. Much of the military budget dried up when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, but the AN-70 project was not officially killed until April 24, 2003, after 28 years. During the 1990s, there were attempts to convert the AN-70 into a commercial transport. The first flight took place in 1994, and there were plans to sell the 135 ton (max take off weight) aircraft for about $50 million each. But the sales were not there. The AN-70 could take off from a 600 meter runway with a reduced load, but with normal loads it needed 1800 meters (about 6,000 feet.)


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