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World’s Largest Plane Destroyed in Russian Invasion

Ukraine’s defense company vowed to rebuild.

Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine has targeted major cities, military facilities and airports — including an airfield that was hosting the world’s largest aircraft.

Ukraine’s state-run defense conglomerate reported Friday that Russian forces had destroyed the Antonov-225 Mriya, Bloomberg reports.

The famed six-engine cargo plane was undergoing repairs outside Kyiv. The Mriya is 275 feet long and has a wingspan of nearly 290 feet. It is also the world’s heaviest plane and can carry a maximum payload of 250 tonnes, either within its fuselage or attached on top of the aircraft.

The AN-225 was commissioned while Ukraine was still under Soviet control as officials sought to transport large components for the nation’s space program. The plane made its maiden flight in 1988; in the decades since, it has joined humanitarian missions — including shuttling medical supplies during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic — and frequently drew crowds at air shows and other venues.

The company said the Mriya was targeted “as a symbol of Ukraine’s aviation capabilities” and vowed to rebuild the plane, although it would reportedly take five years and more than $3 billion. Officials said they would see to it that Russia would cover those expenses.

Tuesday was the sixth day of the Russian assault on Ukraine, which reportedly saw increased attacks against civilian areas and a large military convoy approaching Kyiv. The invasion has drawn condemnation and severe economic sanctions from Western nations.

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