Air Transportation: If The C-130 Were A Jet


February 24, 2009: Russia is pushing its An-74, a 33 ton, twin engine military cargo jet, on the world air transport market. This is an upgraded version of the Cold War era An-72, which first flew in 1977. The An-72 was based on an American design concept, the 113 ton YC-14, that mounted the two engines over the wings, next to the fuselage. This made it possible for the jet aircraft to take off and land on short, non-paved, airfields (without sucking any debris into the engines). The YC-14 was meant to be a replacement for the C-130. The YC-14 worked, but the air force decided that an updated C-130 would be a more cost effective solution to their needs.

Russia copied the "engine-over-wings" concept for their smaller An-72. Production didn't get started until the 1980s, just as the Cold War, and the Soviet Union, ended. So only 61 were built (most are still in use.) But now Russia is pushing the updated An-74. This can carry six tons of cargo, or 68 passengers. The YC-14 could haul 12 tons. The Russians are pushing the An-74 for a wide number of roles (search-and-rescue, electronic warfare, surveillance and maritime patrol). The An-74 is a unique player in the tactical transport business, in that it is a jet (and thus gets you there 20-30 percent faster than props) and is optimized for rough fields. A lot of newly wealthy nations like that combination, and can afford to pay for it.



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