According to Ukrainian officials, the world’s largest airplane, the Antonov AN-225, was destroyed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, causing fear and regret in the aviation industry, where it enjoys nearly cult status.
The massive aircraft, dubbed “Mriya,” or “dream” in Ukrainian, was parked at an airfield near Kyiv when it was assaulted by “Russian occupants,” according to Ukrainian police, who added that the jet would be rebuilt.
“Russia may have annihilated our ‘Mriya.’ They will, however, never be able to demolish our vision of a robust, free, and democratic European state. We will triumph!” Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, wrote on Twitter.
There has been no independent confirmation of the plane’s demise. According to a tweet from the Antonov Company, the aircraft’s “technical condition” could not be verified until it was inspected by experts.
The Ukrainian national military corporation Ukroboronprom, which manages Antonov, said on Sunday that the aircraft had been damaged but will be rebuilt at Russia’s expense, at a cost of $3 billion.
“The restoration is projected to take more than 3 billion USD and more than five years,” according to the statement. “Our duty is to guarantee that these expenditures are covered by the Russian Federation, which has purposefully harmed Ukraine’s aviation and air freight sector.”
“According to Antonov Airlines’ director, one of the engines was dismantled for repairs, and the jet was unable to take off that day, despite the required directives,” it stated.
On Friday, Russian forces claimed to have taken control of the Hostomel airstrip, where the AN-225 was based. A CNN crew on the ground saw Russian airborne troops take up positions.
Maxar Technologies satellite photographs show considerable damage to a section of the hangar where the AN-225 is stored.
Meanwhile, NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System spotted multiple flames at the airfield, including one in the plane’s hangar. According to NASA data acquired from a number of NOAA and NASA satellites, the fire at the hangar was spotted at 11:13 a.m. on Sunday.
It is unclear if the airport fires are the result of actual fires or explosions caused by military attacks.
If true, the strike would be a shocking conclusion to an aircraft that has served for more than 30 years, dating back to the Soviet Union’s days.
During other countries’ crises, the AN-225 was sometimes called in to assist with airlifting aid. It carried relief goods to the neighboring Dominican Republic in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. It was used to bring medical supplies to impacted areas during the early days of the Covid outbreak.
Because of its prominence in the aviation community, it frequently drew enormous crowds wherever it traveled, especially when it made star appearances at air shows.