`Mriya’, the world’s largest plane was destroyed by Russian forces outside Kyiv on the fourth day of Moscow’s invasion.
Antonov-225 cargo plane `Mriya’ (The dream) was burnt in a Russian attack on Hostomel airport near Kyiv, Ukrainian state arms manufacturer Ukroboronprom said.
“The Russian occupiers destroyed the flagship of Ukrainian aviation – the legendary An-225 Mriya. It happened at the Antonov airfield in Hostomel near Kyiv,” Ukroboronprom said on its Facebook page.
It said that the plane restoration would cost more than $3 billion and take a long time.
An-225 Mriya is a strategic airlift cargo aircraft, designed by the Soviet Union’s Antonov Design Bureau in the 1980s. It is the largest airplane in the world.
Most airliners are powered by two or four jet engines. The Mriya on the other hand has six. Its wingspan measures 290 feet (88 meters), which is longer than five 53-foot semi-truck trailers set end-to-end.
Mriya’s cargo hold is actually longer than the Wright Brothers’ historic flight in 1903. Its maximum total weight at takeoff: 640 tons. That’s more than twice as heavy as the Statue of Liberty. To carry all that weight Mriya has 32 wheels spread across its oversized landing gear
“This was the world’s largest aircraft, AN-225 ‘Mriya'” Ukraine’ Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted.
“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!” he added.
The aircraft could transport up to 250 tonnes (551,000 pounds) of cargo at a speed of up to 850 kilometers per hour (528 mph). It had been named “Mriya”, which means “dream” in Ukrainian.
Initially built as part of the Soviet aeronautical program, the An-225 made its first flight in 1988.
After years of not flying after the fall of the Soviet Union, the only existing copy made a test flight in 2001 in Gostomel, about 20 kilometers from Kyiv.
It has been operated by Ukraine’s Antonov Airlines for cargo flights and was in high demand during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.