Imperialism International Military Politics Russia Space Ukraine Vehicles

An-225: World’s Largest Aircraft Burns in the Battle of Antonov Airport

On the morning of February 24th, 2022, between twenty and thirty-four Russian helicopters descended upon the Antonov Airport in Hostomel. Leading the brigade, were KA-52 Alligator Attack Helicopters, and Mil Mi-8 ‘Hip’ Helicopters carrying around 300 Russian airborne soldiers, according to reports1. The Russian forces landed in the Antonov Airport, taking the airport by storm. During the attack by Russian occupants, the world’s largest plane, the An-225 “Dream”, was destroyed.

Russia’s mission to infiltrate the airbase and overtake Ukrainian forces allegedly involved the use of Antonov Airport as an airbridge to allow more forces a place to safely enter the battle for Ukraine. While some media sources stated that Russian troops conquered Antonov Airport, others suggested the Ukrainians were able to ward off the attack. The conquesring of Antonov Airport would provide Putin’s platoons an advantage to Kiev, which is located just fifteen miles outside of Hostomel. Videos from February 24th show helicopters fighting near Hostomel Airport2. More footage depicts a Ka-52 Russian helicopter flying directly overhead of traffic3, and another which made an emergency landing after reportedly being shot down4.

Further sources uploaded unconfirmed photos of the battle at Antonov Airport5. Twitter footage showed helicopters being fired upon6, before being reportedly shot down on the outskirts of Kiev7. As a result, the attack led to the An-225 catching fire, destroying the over three decade-old aircraft. The aircraft, named “Mriya” was currently under repair in the Kiev airport when Putin’s troops arrived, and was unable to evacuate in time. The aircraft was caught in the crossfire, which resulted in the unintentional burning of the aircraft, raising international concern to the condition of the An-225 following the aftermath of the attack.


The World’s Largest Plane

The An-225 Mriya meaning “Dream,” in Ukrainian, is stated to be the largest aircraft in the world, was created by Oleg Antonov, founder of Antonov company, the only one of its kind to exist. The An-225 has 242 world records to its name and is Antonov Airlines’ slogan: “No other name carries more weight8”. The An-225’s wingspan spans over two-hundred and ninety feet, and contains six jet engines, and is two-hundred seventy-six feet in length9.  The aircraft sits on 32 wheels, as opposed to Boeing 747, which features 16 wheels10. First developed in USSR at the Kiev Mechanical Plant in 1988 to transport the USSR’s Buran soviet-space shuttle, the An-255 is capable of carrying the world’s largest cargo. Buran was the first ever soviet space craft, which featured a completely computer-controlled landing. After the fall of the USSR the space program was abandoned due to financial constraint, and the An-225 aircraft became the official property of Ukraine.

Contrails

Mriya produces six separate vapor trails [contrails] when viewed from below. Unlike chemtrails, contrails are water vapor which do not knowingly contain additional chemicals for various purposes. Chemtrails (Stratospheric aerosols) are described by NASA as the use of stratospheric aerosols, (spraying chemicals into the air, through contrails, i.e. chemtrails), to stop global warming11. The An-225’s distinct six contrail pattern stream can easily be recognized on a clear day from the ground below.


Satellite Photos: Before and After

Antonov Airport Before Invasion

Antonov Airport After Invasion

Post-battle shows the destruction of the hanger, containing the An-225 aircraft. Although questions arose that the aircraft survived, it was later revealed the true wake of destruction left by the conflict.

Paul Byrne, Associate Professor of Earth and Planetary Science at Washington University in St. Louis believed that Mriya may have survived the attack. He superposed a drawing of the plane to scale, in line with the visible tail, to back his believe that “The Dream” would live to fly another day.

“Don’t count the #An225 out just yet—I’ve superposed this drawing onto what seems to be the jet’s exposed tailplane, seen in this image posted earlier by @CSBiggers. Although there’s substantial damage to the hangar, most of the airframe is under the undamaged section.”

Paul Byrne, Washington University, St. Louis

The Aftermath

Videos emerged online showing the airport being attacked, and the An-225 “Mriya,” burning in the hanger12. The full extent of the damage was later revealed, showing the Ukrainian Dream in a possibly irreparable condition. Photos and videos taken from the site show severe damage to the aircraft. Global concern has grown of the totality of the damage, that Mriya may have succumbed to the same fate as the soviet-space shuttle “Buran,” which was permanently destroyed in 2002, after the roof of its hanger collapsed13,14.

Mixed messages were sent from media outlets. Throughout Ukraine, officials stated Russian forces set fire to the aircraft. However, Russian state media proclaimed Ukrainians shot the aircraft during the battle resulting in the destruction of the functional historic Soviet Union aircraft. It is difficult to know what truly happened without being there.


Ukraine’s Response

Despite the destruction, Ukrainian state-owned UkrOboronProm remains positive, believes that the Ar-255, “the Dream,” is not over. UkrOboronProm15 is a state-owned enterprise concerning Ukraine’s Defense Industry and was created in 2010 by former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The defense organization stated that the aircraft’s repairs will cost $3 Billion USD and take five years to complete. The repairs will begin following Ukraine’s victorious end, stated the Director General of Ukroboronprom, Yuri Gusev.

Although the original text is written in Ukrainian, using a second translation algorithm confirmed that it is 3 Billion U.S. Dollars, (90,648,900,000.00 UAH). UkrOboronProm stated that their task was to ensure that the costs were covered by the Russian Federation, for causing “intentional damage to Ukraine’s aviation and the air cargo sector.” according to translation. The statement vowed that the Mriya would be “reborn.”

“The Russian invaders destroyed the flagship of the Ukrainian aviation – the legendary An-225 Mriya. This happened at the Antonov airfield in Gostomel near Kiev, where the plane was located. Its recovery will cost more than $ 3 billion and will take a long time. Ukraine will make every effort to ensure that these works are paid for by the aggressor state.”

“Russia has hit Mriya as a symbol of Ukrainian aviation capabilities. An-225 Mriya is an aviation giant, on account of which records for the transportation of the maximum commercial cargo and the longest and heaviest mono cargo in the history of aviation, carrying capacity. Unfortunately, today these options are lost.”

“But they will definitely be restored. The invaders destroyed the plane, but they will not be able to destroy our common dream. It will definitely be revived. According to estimates, it will take more than $ 3 billion [USD] and more than 5 years. Our task is to ensure that these costs are covered by the Russian Federation, which has caused intentional damage to The Ukrainian aviation and the cargo air transportation sector.”

“Russia has destroyed our Mriya, but it is impossible to destroy the dream of a Ukraine free from the invader. We will fight for our land and our home until the victorious end. And after the victory, be sure, you hear, be sure to complete our new ‘Dream,’ which has been waiting for this in a safe place for many years. Everything will be Ukraine!” – said the Director General of the SC “Ukroboronprom” Yuri Gusev.

“At the time of the invasion, the AN-225 Mriya was under repair at Gostomel Airport, so it did not have time to fly out of Ukraine.”


Conclusion

As Russia continues to wage war against Ukrainian troops, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy as continuously called on western countries to back up the Ukrainian nation16. The loss of the historic soviet-era An-225 shows the lack of regard the Russian military has for Ukrainian infrastructure. While the aircraft itself was not a target of the Russian, nor Ukrainian, military it shows the collateral damage to the nation of Ukraine, and gives a horrifying perspective into what other entities, such as residents, are also disregarded by the government during the Russia-Ukrainian war.

The Russian missile strikes on Ukraine have brought devastation to the daily lives of the Ukrainian people, forcing many to flee their homes. In addition, the war has begun destroying the nation’s historical landmarks, including the An-225 Mriya which held historic significance to both Ukraine, and Russia. East of Ukraine, Russian residents have been impacted by the war through massive international sanctions. This is not a war between Russian and Ukrainian people. This is a war between government leaders, using their citizens as shields to obtain more power. This war will not bring liberation to the people on either side of the Ukrainian-Russian border, yet the battle wages on, Putin fighting Zelenskyy for Ukraine.


Note: Although Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s company Stratolaunch’s the “Roc” is the current largest functional aircraft in existence, this article represented the “largest aircraft” which hold significance to the people of Ukraine, and is the subject of this article.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: