The need to provide a state-of-the-art jet successor to the ubiquitous An-26 led Antonov to develop a twin-turbo-fan tactical airlifter, the An-72, which made use of the Coanda effect, improving wing lift and field performance dramatically. The prototype flew in 1977, but it was not until the mid-1980s that production began in Khar'kov. The baseline military airlifter soon spawned a wide selection of derivatives. First was the An-74; originally conceived as a specialized version for Arctic and Antarctic support, it entered production as an ordinary civil transport. Concerted efforts by the Antonov OKB to enhance the capabilities of the An-72/An-74 family led to the development of the An-72P armed border patrol version, the convertible cargo/passenger An-747T and An-74TK, the An-74S flying hospital and the radically redesigned An-74TK-300 with engines on underwing pylons - an arrangement which improved the all-important economic efficiency. The most intriguing An-72 derivative was the unorthodox An-71 AEW aircraft; originally meant for shipboard operations, it was prevented from entering production by the political and economic situation.
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