World’s largest plane destroyed by Russian strikes against Ukraine.

February 28, 2022, 7:22 am

The world’s largest air­craft — the Ukrain­ian car­go plane Antonov-225 — was destroyed by Russ­ian strikes out­side Kiev on the fourth day of Moscow’s inva­sion, Ukraine’s state-owned Ukroboron­prom announced Sunday.

“Russ­ian invaders destroyed the flag­ship of the Ukrain­ian air force, the AN-225” at Antonov air­port in Gos­tomel near Kiev, the group said in a statement.

The plane was unique in the world, at 84 meters long (276 feet), it could car­ry up to 250 met­ric tons (551,000 pounds) of car­go at speeds of up to 850 kilo­me­ters per hour (528 mph).

It had been named “Mriya,” which means “dream” in Ukrainian.

“It was the world’s biggest plane, the AN-225 ‘Mriya,’ ” Ukrain­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Dmytro Kule­ba tweet­ed Sunday.

“Rus­sia may have destroyed our ‘Mriya’. But it can nev­er destroy our dream of a strong, free and demo­c­ra­t­ic Euro­pean state. We will win!” he added.

Gos­tomel air­port has seen vio­lent clash­es since the start of the Russ­ian inva­sion, launched on Thurs­day by Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

The Russ­ian army said it was try­ing to seize the strate­gic infrastructure.

Arms man­u­fac­tur­er Ukroboron­prom esti­mat­ed that restor­ing the “Mriya” would cost more than $3 bil­lion (€2.7 bil­lion) and could take more than five years.

“Our mis­sion is to ensure that these expens­es are cov­ered by Rus­sia, which has delib­er­ate­ly inflict­ed dam­age on the Ukrain­ian air force,” the group said.

Orig­i­nal­ly built as part of the Sovi­et avi­a­tion pro­gram, the An-225 made its first flight in 1988.

After years with­out fly­ing after the fall of the Sovi­et Union, the only exist­ing exam­ple made a test flight in 2001 at Gos­tomel, about 20 kilo­me­ters (12 miles) from Kiev.

It was oper­at­ed by the Ukrain­ian com­pa­ny Antonov Air­lines for car­go flights and was in high demand at the begin­ning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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