The An70 is a powerful prop-driven aircraft. While the C-130 can haul 20 tons, and the A400M 37 tons, the AN-70 can carry 47 tons (for up to 1,350 kilometers.) Carrying 20 tons, the An70 can travel 7,400 kilometers. The aircraft also excels in one area the Russians were always good at; the ability to operate from unpaved, and short, runways. The Russian-Ukrainian company developing the AN-70 expected to sell lots of them to countries like India and China, and others that want the most for their money in a rugged military transport.
The An70 is a turboprop transport with a top speed of 800 kilometers, a range of 8,000 kilometers and is intended as a replacement for the venerable, and popular, An-12. The An70 has been in development since 1984, and that effort was interrupted by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Despite the cut in funding, the first flight took place in 1994, and a second in 1997. The project limped along on a much reduced budget. The first prototype crashed in 2001, and part of the problem was design flaws with it's D-27 turboprop engines. The Soviet Union always had problems with designing and building durable and reliable aircraft engines. These problems have not been resolved, and some Russian aircraft companies buy foreign engines for their transports.
Antonov, a Ukrainian company, kept An70 development going through the Summer, and maintained good relations with the Russian government. Russia wants to concentrate on further developing its own Il-76 jet transport. But the Venezuelans needed something like the An70. Just in time. Venezuela had earlier tried to buy eight C-295 transports and two CN-235MPA maritime patrol aircraft from Spain. The U.S. blocked that deal, because those aircraft used American technology that the U.S. would not allow Venezuela access to.
Venezuela has come to the rescue of the Antonov aircraft company by offering to buy a dozen of their new An70 transports. Four months ago, Russia pulled out of the An70 development project, and survival of the An70 was in doubt. The An70 has been pitched as a low cost alternative for nations needing C-130 or A400M type medium military transports.