The Antonov An-72 is a transport aircraft developed by the Soviet/Ukrainian company Antonov in the late 1970s. It is designed for short takeoff and landing (STOL) operations on unprepared runways, and can carry up to 10 tonnes of cargo or 52 passengers. The An-72 has a distinctive appearance, with two turbofan engines mounted over the wings, creating a Coandă effect that enhances lift and reduces takeoff and landing distances.
The An-72 was originally intended as a replacement for the Antonov An-26, a twin-turboprop transport aircraft used by the Soviet Air Force and civil operators. The An-72 was first flown in 1977 and entered service in 1985. It was given the NATO reporting name Coaler. The An-72 was also exported to several countries, such as China, Iran, Libya, North Korea, and Peru.
The An-72 has several variants, including the An-72S, a VIP transport version; the An-72P, a maritime patrol version; and the An-74, an improved version with increased range and payload. The An-74 also has several subvariants, such as the An-74TK, a convertible passenger/cargo version; the An-74T, a dedicated cargo version; and the An-74D, a long-range version.
The An-72 and its variants have been used for various missions, such as military transport, humanitarian aid, polar exploration, and commercial freight. The An-72 has proven to be reliable and versatile, able to operate in harsh conditions and remote areas. The An-72 is still in service with several operators, both military and civilian.
The Antonov An-72 is a remarkable aircraft that showcases the engineering and innovation of Antonov. It is an efficient and adaptable transport aircraft that can perform STOL operations on any terrain.