The Antonov An-72 "Coaler" was designed as a Short TakeOff and Landing (STOL) aircraft which can operate from unprepared airfields. The An-72 originated as An-32, but was later fitted with jet engines. The first prototype flew on 22 December 1977, and the aircraft entered service in 1979.
The wings are high-mounted with two turbofans located in long pods mounted on top. Round air intakes extend from the front of the wings' leading edges. The engines were placed on the leading edge of the wings to increase lift for STOL capability, with the jet exhausts blowing over titanium panels on the upper surface. The engine position also gives good Foreign Object Damage (FOD) protection. The fuselage is circular with round, solid nose, upswept rear section, and a flush cockpit. The rear fuselage has a hinged loading ramp with a rear fairing that slides backwards and up to clear the opening. Up to 7.5 tons can be airdropped, and there are folding side seats for 42 fully-equipped paratroops or 52 passengers.
The An-72P is a maritime patrol variant with bulged observation windows, liferaft provision, cameras as well as offensive armament, including underwing rocket pods, a podded cannon on the undercarriage sponson and bombs that can be mounted in the rear fuselage and dropped through the open rear ramp.
The An-74, a derivative of the An-72, features improved avionics and radar together with an extended wingspan and increased range. It was designed to operate in the polar regions where it can land on ice floes for resupply or rescue work. The An-71 AEW aircraft also featured the extended wingspan, along with a large radar dish on top of the tail.