Development of the An-71 began in the early 1983 and was led by Pjotr Babaluyev. First roll-outs were made on 5th July 1985, seven days later, on 12th July 1985 the first flight was made by Alexander Tkatshenko at 14:30, the prototype had the specification SSSR-780151. The second aircraft (specification SSSR-780361) had its first flight on 28th February 1986. All in all three protoytypes were made, the fourth one wasn´t finished. Parts of the fourth prototype were used to continue testing on the first prototype, as this one was damaged during a crash. The first two prototypes were mainly used for flight testing, while the third one was used for ground testing. After 749 flights, the program was cancelled in the year 1990, in favour of the Yakovlev Yak-44.