The Antonov An-225 Mriya, the largest aircraft in the world, was destroyed by Russian airborne forces on a runway at Hostomel airport, AFP reports.
According to the report, Mriya (“Dream” in French) was the name in Ukrainian of the Antonov An-225 Mriya, the largest aircraft in the world. Its destruction, initially denied by Ukraine, was finally confirmed by Dmytro Kuleba, Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The aircraft was parked on a runway at Hostomel, an international cargo airport near the town of Hostomel, about 20 km from Kiev, the report said.
The aircraft was shelled on the night of February 24 to 25 by Russian aircraft. On a video from a drone and unveiled by Air & Cosmos , the device was on fire in its hangar.
“Russia may have destroyed our ‘Mriya’. But they can never destroy our dream of a strong, free and democratic European state. We will win!” Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter.
There has been no independent confirmation of the aircraft’s destruction. A tweet from the Antonov Company said it could not verify the “technical condition” of the aircraft until it had been inspected by experts.
Ukrainian state defence company Ukroboronprom, which manages Antonov, on Sunday issued a statement saying the aircraft had been destroyed but would be rebuilt at Russia’s expense — a cost it put at US$3 billion.
“The restoration is estimated to take over 3 billion USD and over five years,” the statement said. “Our task is to ensure that these costs are covered by the Russian Federation, which has caused intentional damage to Ukraine’s aviation and the air cargo sector.
In a later statement, the company said the airplane had been in on the ground near Kyiv on February 24 undergoing maintenance.
“According to the director of Antonov Airlines, one of the engines was dismantled for repairs and the plane wasn’t able to take off that day, although the appropriate commands were given,” it said.
Russian forces claimed to have captured Hostomel airfield, where the AN-225 was located, on Friday. A CNN team on the ground witnessed Russian airborne troops taking up positions.
Satellite images from Maxar Technologies show significant damage to part of the hangar in which the AN-225 is stored.
The Antonov An-225 Mriya Aircraft:
To this day, Mriya remains the heaviest aircraft ever built. Powered by six turbofan engines, she has a maximum payload weight of 250 tonnes, which can be carried inside or on its back. It boasts the largest wingspan of any airplane in operational service.
Only one An-225 was ever built by the Kiev-based Antonov company, which came up with the design. It first took flight in 1988 and has been in service ever since.
According to AFP, this cargo plane began its career in 1988 and was honoured each year for Ukrainian Independence Day, August 24. Produced in a single copy, its dimensions were impressive. The AN-225 is indeed 11 meters longer than the A380, Airbus’ jumbo jet (84 meters against 73 meters) and 38% heavier (almost 600 tonnes). It was designed to carry the Russian space shuttle Buran.
With its six turbojet engines and its wingspan of 88 meters, this behemoth can carry up to 253 tons of load over a distance of more than 10,000 kilometres. Concretely, this “mega-Jumbo” would have been able to transport in its hold an Airbus A340 (240 tons) in spare parts between Toulouse and Seattle.
By destroying this device, Russia mainly wanted to destroy a symbol. Ukraine has already announced its intention to repair Mriya. The cost of the work could reach 3 billion dollars. It will take no less than 5 years for this giant of the air to take off, the report added.