According to the Ukrainian government, the Antonov An-225 “Mriya” super-heavy transport aircraft was destroyed by invading Russian troops during the fight for a key airport outside Kiev.
Located in Hostomel, west of Kiev, the An-225 was sitting at a strategically valuable freight airport that has been been the site of combat between Russian and Ukrainian forces for the last three days. A photo posted to social media shows the hangar housing the gigantic aircraft on fire.
“This was the world’s largest aircraft, AN-225 ‘Mriya’ (‘Dream’ in Ukrainian). 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!” said Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, in a tweet on Feb. 27.
It in unclear how badly the plane is damaged, if it is recoverable, or which side fired the munitions that attacked it.
UA Interfax, a Ukrainian state news agency, said that the plane would be repaired, and Russia would pay for it.
“The Russian military destroyed the flagship of the Ukrainian aviation – An-225 Mriya aircraft,” according to the report. “Its restoration will cost more than $3 billion and will take a long time. Ukraine will make every effort to ensure that the aggressor state pays for these works.”
Initially, despite Russian paratroopers taking the freight airport at Hostomel on the first day of the invasion, the An-225 was not damaged, according to Antonov Airlines captain Dmytro Antonov.
In the evening Eastern European time, Antonov, the company that made the An-225 and other large transport planes, said that “until the AN-225 has been inspected by experts, we cannot report on the technical condition of the aircraft.”
The An-225 was built in 1985 by the Soviet Union’s Antonov Design Bureau. Its purpose was to carry the Soviet space shuttle Buran. Two aircraft were to be built, but only one completed. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the plane remained in storage for years, being refurbished and put into service as a super-heavy transporter in 2002.
A YouTube video from last summer shows the “Mriya” taking off in better days.