World’s Largest Plane Destroyed in Ukraine

by Shelby Scott

War rages on in Ukraine’s city streets. Now, amid mass evacuations, volunteer relief efforts, and the rising potentiality for discussion between the warring nations, the world’s largest plane has reportedly been destroyed at the hands of Russian occupants.

According to CNN Travel, the Antonov AN-225 had been in its hangar near Kyiv at the time of its destruction. Deemed “Mriya” in Ukrainian, which translates to the English, “dream,” news of the massive aircraft’s demolition inspired both alarm and sadness among the international aviation community.

The outlet reports that there has been no independent confirmation of Mriya’s destruction. However, Ukrainian officials shared news of the situation on Sunday, amid the invasion.

“Russia may have destroyed our ‘Mriya,'” Tweeted Ukraine’s foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, “But they will never be able to destroy our dream of a strong, free and democratic European state.”

In regard to the loss, Antonov Company shared that experts must conduct an inspection before verifying the craft’s “technical condition.”

As per the outlet, satellite images from Maxar Technologies showed significant damage to part of the massive plane’s hangar. Simultaneously, NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System counted multiple fires at the airport, one located inside Mriya’s very hangar.

Amid Russia’s occupation across Ukraine, invading forces reported their occupation of the Antonov AN-225’s airport on Friday. CNN reports one of their teams witnessed Russian airborne troops occupying the airport.

A History of Ukraine’s Iconic Aircraft

There are a few reasons why Mriya’s destruction, if confirmed, would be so devastating.

First off, Mriya holds seniority within the world of aviation, taking its first flight in 1988. Weighing a colossal 250 tonnes, it remains the heaviest aircraft ever built. The plane also boasts the largest wingspan of any contemporarily active aircraft.

Planning for the Ukrainian craft’s construction began two decades prior to its first flight. Original plans took root in the 1960s and ’70s, when Russia and the United States initiated their race to space. The need for such a massive aircraft arose as Antonov Company received orders to develop a mode of transport large enough for the then-Soviet Union’s Buran spacecraft, intended to rival NASA’s Space Shuttle.

Years later, the large plane served the global community during times of international crisis. For example, CNN recalls the devastating Haitian earthquake that struck in 2010. Amid the aftermath, Mriya carried large amounts of relief supplies to the Dominican Republic.

More contemporarily, the Ukraine-docked aircraft delivered COVID-19 medical supplies to heavily affected regions globally.

That said, it’s confirmed destruction, as CNN details, would conclude the iconic airplane’s more than 30-year career, signifying a bleak moment in aviation history.

Reportedly, however, Ukraine intends to rebuild the Mriya, though at the expense of the Russians. Ukraine’s state defense company, Ukroboronprom, revealed that rebuilding the massive airplane would cost $3 billion USD over the course of five years.