The world’s largest aircraft— the Antonov An-225—reportedly was destroyed during the Russian invasion of Ukraine in recent days.
According to CNN, the enormous aircraft named “Mriya,” or “dream” in Ukrainian, was parked at an airfield near Kyiv when it was attacked, Ukrainian authorities said, adding 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.
Ukrainian state defense company Ukroboronprom said on Sunday that Russians destroyed the plane at the Antonov airfield in Gostomel near Kyiv. It will cost over $3 billion to restore the plane, which the company pledged would happen.
There has been no independent confirmation of the aircraft’s destruction, CNN reported.
The company said the plane holds the record for the transportation of the largest commercial cargo load. At the time of invasion, the An-225 Mriya was under repair at Gostomel Airport, so it did not have time to leave Ukraine.
The An-225 is powered by six turbofan engines with a maximum payload of 250 tons and has the largest wingspan of any airplane in operational service. Only one An-225 was built by the Kiev-based Antonov company. It first took flight in 1988 and has been in service ever since.
The plane was sometimes used in other crises around the world. In the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, it delivered relief supplies to the neighboring Dominican Republic. During the early days of the CPVID-19 pandemic, it was used to transport medical supplies, CNN reported.
A smaller yet still massive version of the An-225 visited PIT in May carrying medical supplies. The Antonov An-124 Ruslan, operated by Russian cargo airline Volga Dnepr, delivered more than 17,000 compressors. The An-124 entered service in 1986 and can carry up to 150 tons of cargo.
The Antonov An-124, a derivative of the An-225, has visited PIT on numerous occasions, most recently in May 2021 delivering more than 170,000 compressors (Photo by Evan Dougherty)