The Antonov An-225 Mriya, known as the world’s largest aircraft, was destroyed during a Russian attack on the Antonov Airport in Hostomel, Ukraine.

The destruction was confirmed by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

“This was the world’s largest aircraft, AN-225 ‘Mriya’ (‘Dream’ in Ukrainian). Russia may have destroyed our ‘Mriya’,” Kuleba said on Twitter. “But they will never be able to destroy our dream of a strong, free and democratic European state. We shall prevail!”

The An-225 was developed as part of the Soviet space program to transport the space shuttle Buran as well as large rocket components. It flew for the first time in 1988. With six engines and 42 tires, it could transport up to 640 tons, making it the most powerful aircraft ever created, and the largest operating.

The program initially planned on building two aircraft, but only one was completed before the fall of the Soviet Union. The incomplete airframe of the second giant is resting in another hangar at Antonov Airport. Its current condition is unknown.

Antonov Airport is owned by the aircraft manufacturing company of the same name, and its subsidiary Antonov Airlines, which used to operate Mriya among other freighters. The airport, located in the vicinity of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city, was attacked very early in the invasion of the country by Russia, which began on February 24, 2022. The alleged goal of Russian paratroopers sent on the site was to establish a bridgehead for more Russian troops to be flown.

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Russian soldiers seized Antonov airport, where the An-225 Mriya, the world’s largest aircraft, is currently located.
 

The Ukrainian National Guard initially repelled the assault, after which Dmitry Antonov, the captain of the An-225, said that the Mriya was intact. But assaults on the airport continued, and later that day the aircraft was reportedly destroyed. On the afternoon of February 25, 2022, the Russians finally gained control of the site.