The An-70 is a high-wing monoplane with four wing-mounted propfan engines, it has a full glass cockpit and fly-by-wire controls. The aircraft has a 19.1 metre (22.4 metre with the ramp) x 4 metre x 4.1 metre cargo space and can carry 47 ton of cargo, or approximately 300 troops or 200 injured personnel. Powered by four Progress D-27 propfan engines, each turning a pair of contra-rotating scimitar propellers.
The An-70 was the first Eastern-bloc transport aircraft to be built according to the new IAC AP-25 norms that conformed with JAR-25. This would allow civilian certification in both Western Europe and North America. Another first was the use of a MIL-STD-1553B-compatible data bus, which allows NATO avionics and defensive suites to be installed.
In 2002 Russia and Ukraine had agreed on a 50–50 risk-sharing deal on production. In May 2005 a senior Russian Air Force officials claimed that bilateral development and further testing of the An-70 would continue.
In April 2006 Russia announced its complete withdrawal from the project. The head of the Russian Air Force, Vladimir Mikhaylov, claimed that the An-70 has grown into a heavy, expensive cargo plane. The Russian military plans to use the Ilyushin Il-76MF, which reportedly costs half as much as the An-70. After the Orange Revolution in late 2004, and with Ukraine openly aiming for NATO membership, political will for the project evaporated. Russia has provided around 60 percent of the estimated $5 billion invested in the project to date.
The project continued but work was delayed by Russia's $60 million unpaid debts on the project. Russia resumed cooperation and restored funding on the An-70 project in late 2009. However Russia did not pay its forfeit penalties, according to Antonov.
In August 2010, it was reported that user testing was taking place, and that the Ukrainian Air Force expected to take delivery of the first An-70 in 2011. Volga-Dnepr Airlines signed an agreement for a possible purchase of up to five An-70T aircraft. A requirement for 60 An-70s was included in Russia's 2011–2020 national armament programme when it was issued in December 2010. After an extensive series of modifications, including revised avionics (which allowed the flight crew to be reduced from five to four) and changes to the aircraft's propellers to improve reliability and decrease noise, the second prototype An-70 flew again on 27 September 2012 and took part in the Aviasit XI airshow at Kiev. In June 2012, it was decided to carry out assembly of the An-70 at the KAPO factory in Kazan, Russia. The aircraft's wings, tail surfaces and engine nacelles would be built by Antonov in Kiev.
Production of the first new fuselages in 16 years began in December 2012, and tests were completed by April 2014.
In March 2015 Russia Defence ministry declared that they are ruling out the An-70 for state procurement. They also declared that, as in their opinion, Ukraine has withdrawn from the military and defence agreements signed before the crisis between them by completing the plane without Russian involvement, they would request return of 2.95 billion rubles that Russian government had spent on An-70 project.
- An-112KC : A proposed aerial refueling version of the An-70, except with two jet engines from the team of U.S. Aerospace and Antonov for the U.S. Air Force's KC-X program. The USAF rejected the proposal, and the appeal was later dismissed.
- An-188 : Program to develop this variant was launched at the 2015 Paris Air Show. This variant will essentially be a four jet engine powered heavy-medium transport with modernized NATO- compatible western cockpit, slightly enlarged wings, winglets and ariel refueling capabilities. The An-188 is intended to fill the gap between a C-130 and C-17 while being a direct competitor to the A400M. Plans include incorporating a western engine option (as well as a Ukrainian one) to appeal to western markets and reduce dependency on eastern markets.