The World’s Biggest Aircraft Has Been Destroyed

The Ukrainian government announced the loss of the only functional Antonov-225 Cossack on Sunday night.

This followed days of mystery about the big aircraft’s whereabouts amid severe fighting at its home station, but — perhaps surprisingly — the Ukrainian government pledged to reconstruct it.

Devastating news

This is a sad loss for the aviation world. The aircraft was beloved by aircraft spotters who would follow it all over the world, massing into big crowds to view the famous aircraft.

According to the Ukrainian authorities, the legendary sextuple-engined An-225 was destroyed in combat at Kyiv’s Antonov / Gostomel airfield last week.

Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba affirmed the loss, which was the subject of false rumor and supposition for days after Russia attempted to capture Antonov airport on the fringes of Kyiv.

This was supposedly part of a battle plan to use the strip to land large numbers of troops to attack the city.

Despite being the only operational Soviet-designed and built airplane, the An-225 is well-known among pilots for being the world’s largest aircraft until this week, as well as a regular heavy-lift freighter that frequently makes headlines for transporting unusual cargo.

Initially conceived for the Soviet space industry, it has recently been used to transport major military hardware, including helicopters.

During the West’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, it supplied train cars and even airlifted a massive shipment of masks from Asia to Germany at the beginning of the pandemic.

The legend

The plane could carry a record-breaking 250 tons; the loss of its one-of-a-kind airlift capability will be felt in the future.

The Ukrainian defense industry group Ukroboronprom said on Sunday it was unable to simply flee to avoid conflict last week, since the An-225 was receiving repairs at the time of the war.

While the Ukrainian government’s promise to reconstruct the plane after it was destroyed in a hangar fire may appear strange, it is not as far-fetched as it seems.

While the An-225 was one of its only sort in flight when Soviet Russia fell apart, a second plane was being built at the time.

The second An-225, which is still in Kyiv, has been worked on and off since then, with a plea for financing as recently as 2016 to finish the aircraft.

The An-225’s initial intended application for helping space flight is one unrealized, but frequently mentioned, possibility that could be included in the design if the second airframe is produced in the future.

China has expressed interest in utilizing the plane to help launch a rocket in the past, while the United Kingdom considered using it to deploy a British space shuttle as early as the 1990s.

The cost of repair is estimated to be three billion dollars by Germany’s Bild; however, a more reasonable assessment of $450 million for only finishing the spare airframe has been reported.