In a significant development in Russia’s ongoing attack on Ukraine, the world’s largest aircraft AN225 has been destroyed in the war. After speculations of the incident were being made on social media, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister confirmed the unfortunate news that the one of a kind six-engine cargo plane has been destroyed by Russia.
Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, posted on Twitter today evening, “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!”
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! pic.twitter.com/TdnBFlj3N8— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) February 27, 2022
Antonov, the company that built and operated the AN225 aircraft, said that until the AN-225 has been inspected by experts, they cannot report on the technical condition of the aircraft.
Update on the information of #AN225 "Mriya" aircraft: Currently, until the AN-225 has been inspected by experts, we cannot report on the technical condition of the aircraft.— ANTONOV Company 🇺🇦 (@AntonovCompany) February 27, 2022
Stay tuned for further official announcement.#StopRussia #StopRussiaAggression #Ukraine pic.twitter.com/EHyHVFJJXc
Earlier in the day, it was being speculated that AN-225 has been destroyed, based on a grainy image showing an aircraft in a hanger getting bombed, it is being speculated that the aircraft in the photograph is the legendary AN225, the six-engine cargo plane. Only one aircraft of the model was built by the Antonov aircraft manufacturing company based in Ukraine.
🔴 Reports that the unique Antonov An-225, the largest plane in the world is on fire at Hostomel Airport. pic.twitter.com/8iFu8EG3UY— Breaking Aviation News & Videos (@aviationbrk) February 27, 2022
The photograph shows a large aircraft under a hanger with a curved roof on fire. It also makes it clear that a missile hit the plane, which had pierced through the sheet-metal curved roof. The aircraft was last parked at the Hostomel Airport near the capital Kyiv, which is also known as the Antonov International Airport. It is located in a town named Hostomel or Gostomel in the north-western suburb of the capital city of Kyiv. The airport is owned by the Antonov aircraft manufacturing company.
Social media users had compared the photograph with the known hanger of the AN225, and found that they match. The hanger has a curved roof with an open back, which is also shown in the photograph. Moreover, it appears that the aircraft under fire has three engines on one of the wings, and AN225 is the only current aircraft with six jet engines in the configuration seen in the photo.
Satellite imagery matches the paneling type of the hanger, and ground level photo’s match the open back and from the of hanger. I believe we can confirm the #An225 has been destroyed pic.twitter.com/uStFnD5IWb— OSINT_Canada (@canada_osint) February 27, 2022
Antonov, which also operates the aircraft, had said that they no information about the accurate status of the aircraft. Reacting to the speculations on Twitter earlier in the day, the company neither confirmed nor denied that AN225 has been destroyed, and had asked to wait for official information.
Please wait for official information— ANTONOV Company 🇺🇦 (@AntonovCompany) February 27, 2022
The reason that the company does not have the information is that the airport is under the control of Russians. Russian forces had seized the Antonov Airport on February 25th after an failed attempt on 24th. As the airport has a runway allowing landing of heavy lift transport planes, it means Russia will now be able to airlift troops and heavy military machinery directly to the outskirts of capital Kyiv.
On February 26, the company had said that it does not don’t have accurate information about the AN225, which is named Mriya. They had said that according the latest information on 24th, before the Russian attack on the airport, the aircraft was intact.
However, as the airport is already under Russian control, it raises the question how the AN225 transport plane parked at its hanger in the airport was damaged, if the speculations about it are right. Some netizens have theorised that it may have been unintentionally hit by a Ukrainian missile.
Looks like the #AN225 is destroyed, most likely by an unintentional hit from the Ukrainian missile (airport occupied by RU).— JareelSkaj (@JareelSkaj) February 27, 2022
In the memory of this jaw-dropping airplane, a short clip from my archive, when I had a pleasure to see it with my own eyes at @ILA_Berlin 2018#ILA_Berlin https://t.co/2FJczYxpOz pic.twitter.com/Z4rcJcb4p3
As the Ukrainian forces are trying to recapture the airport, one of their missiles may have landed on the AN225 hanger, it was being speculated. Although it is also possible that Russians may have destroyed the aircraft, and now the Ukrainian foreign minister had said that the Russians are responsible for it.
The Antonov AN225 Mriya aircraft was built in 1985 by Antonov in Ukraine SSR in the USSR at that time. It is the heaviest aircraft ever built, and has the longest wingspan. The massive aircraft has six turbofan engines and 32 wheels. It is also known for its enormously wide twin tail.
The aircraft was originally built to transport the launch vehicles of the planned Buran spacecraft, but that space program didn’t see the light of the day. Therefore, the aircraft was converted to a cargo plane, mainly used for strategic cargo airlift purposes, to transport big and heavy machinery that other planes can’t carry. While a second AN225 was partially built, the project was abandoned after the fall of the USSR. Efforts to restart the project have been not successful due to financial issues and also due to Ukraine-Russia conflicts, as the plane needs many parts from Russia.
The lone AN225 being destroyed in the war will mark the sad end of a glorious chapter in aviation history.