Antonov AN-225, the world’s largest aircraft has been destroyed in the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian officials say.
The enormous aircraft, named “Mriya,” or “dream” in Ukrainian, was parked at an airfield near Kyiv when it was attacked by “Russian occupants,” Ukrainian authorities said, insisting that they would
rebuild the plane.
“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!” wrote Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Twitter.
As of the time of going to press, there had not been 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.
On Sunday, Ukrainian state defence company Ukroboronprom, which manages Antonov, said the aircraft had been destroyed but would be rebuilt at Russia’s expense — a cost of $3 billion (34 trillion KSh).
“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.”
The company said the aeroplane was destroyed while it was undergoing maintenance on the ground near Kyiv on February 24.
“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,” CNN reports.
The news has generated alarm and sadness among the aviation world in which the aircraft is revered.
On Friday, Russian forces claimed to have captured Hostomel airfield, where the AN-225 was located.
Mriya remains the heaviest aircraft ever built. It is powered by six turbofan engines and has a maximum payload weight of 250 tonnes, which can be carried inside or on its back.
The aircraft also boasts the largest wingspan of any aeroplane in operational service.
Only one AntonovAN-225 was ever built by the Kyiv-based Antonov Company, which came up with the design.
It first took flight in 1988 and has been in service ever since including responding to humanitarian missions like the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
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