The Antonov An-26 is a twin-engined turboprop short-to-medium range cargo aircraft capable of transporting 5,500 kg of mixed freight. Cargo pallets require a forklift to access its main deck. The Antonov An-26 has a rear loading ramp, onboard winches and hoists to assist with loading oversize or bulk cargo.
After successful operations of the An-24T tactical transport in austere locations, interest in a version with a retractable cargo ramp increased. Initial studies for the retractable ramp were carried out as part of the projected An-40 medium transport. When given the go-ahead for the An-26 in March 1968, the Antonov OKB adapted the ramp design of the An-40 to the An-24 fuselage, resulting in the An-26. Particular attention was given to the military mission, and the majority of early An-26 production was delivered to the VTA (voyenno-transportnaya aviatsiya).
Using the majority of the An-24 airframe, with its high-set cantilevered wings, twin turboprops, and stalky main undercarriage, the An-26 included military equipment, such as tip-up paratroop canvas seats, an overhead traveling hoist, bulged observation windows and parachute static line attachment cables. The An-26 made its public debut at the 27th Paris Air Show at Le Bourget where the second prototype, CCCP-26184 (c/n00202), was shown in the static aircraft park.
The An-26 is also manufactured without a license agreement in China by the Xian Aircraft factory as the Y-14, later changed to be included in the Xian Y7 series.
Procharter used the AN-26 on a proving flight in Iraq for its customer, confirming its ability to land on a damaged and restricted runway, delivering essential cargo supplies.
Aircraft with similar capabilities are: Antonov AN-24, Antonov AN-32, Fokker F27 and Transall C160, Xian Y7.