Ukraine's Antonov AN-225 'Mriya', the largest plane in the world, destroyed by Russia
An attack by Russian forces on the airport of Hostomel in Ukraine left the mammoth transport plane, the only one ever built, in charred ruins.
The only ever Antonov AN-225 Mriya built, the world's largest plane, which belongs to Ukraine has been destroyed on the ground by a Russian attack on Antonov Airport in Hostomel. Fighting in the Battle of Antonov Airport has been on-going since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with control of the airfield the main objective given its strategic value.
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The massive six-engined AN-225 was designed by the Antonov Design Bureau in the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine in the 1980s and first flew in 1988. It was mothballed after the collapse of the USSR, but was restored and put into service with Antonov Airlines in the early 2000s.
The AN-225 Mriya (meaning dream or inspiration) held numerous aeronautical records including being the heaviest aircraft ever built and having the largest wingspan, at 290 ft, of any aircraft in operation. For comparison a 747 jumbo jet has a wingspan of 224 ft.
It also airlifted the single-item heaviest payload (a gas generator for an Armenian power plant) weighing 189,980kg (418,830 lb) and the heaviest total payload of 253,820 kg (559,580lb), made up of four battle tanks.
It also carried the world's longest ever piece of cargo, two 42.1m (138 ft) wind turbine blades, from China to Denmark, in 2010.
AN-225 Mriya confirmed destroyed
The Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, confirmed on Twitter that the AN-225 had been destroyed, saying that "Russia may have destroyed our ‘Mriya’. But they will never be able to destroy our dream of a strong, free and democratic European state. We shall prevail!"
According to the BBC the enormous 225-tonne plane was meant to have been moved out of the airport on 24 February, the day Russia launched their invasion, however the outbreak of war by Russia meant it was unable to leave. The AN-225 survived for three days even while fighting continued at the airbase, until it was finally destroyed.
Restoration plan for Ukraine's AN-225
Although the plane has been left a charred wrecked, there is already a plan in place to restore it, although it is calculated it will take five years and cost around 3 billion dollars (by comparison a new Airbus A380, the largest passenger liner cost over $400 million new in 2018, although it is no longer being manufactured).
Yurii Gusev, head of Ukroboronprom, the Ukrainian firm that owned the plane said they would seek to make Russia pay for the restoration of the AN-225 Mriya.