The world's largest plane killed by the Russians: Antonov 225 Mriya



AN-225 Mriya is one of the planes with the most special story in the world with its production philosophy, production, use and destruction. Let's examine the world's largest aircraft with an informative

To examine the AN-225 aircraft, we need to go back to the 1980s. During this period, the American and Soviet Space Agencies entered into a fierce struggle, which we call the moon race. The Americans made very successful rocket tests in the 1980s.


During this period, the Soviet Union, which focused on the Buran Space Shuttle, succeeded in producing the Buran Space Shuttle powered by Energia super rockets. This space rocket was designed to compete seriously with the space shuttles of the USA.


But like every beauty has a flaw, the Buran Space Shuttle also had a flaw. The Buran Space Shuttle was huge. There was no way it could have been taken to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with the Energia super rockets.

The railway was tried to take the shuttle, but it didn't work. It was planned to carry the cargo with the Mi-26 helicopter, which made its first flight at that time, but this created a safety problem due to various wind and turbulence problems.

Soviet engineers first thought about transporting this cargo with the AN-124 Ruslan, which flew in 1982. The Buran rocket to be placed above Ruslan was a good idea. However, due to the size of the Buran Shuttle, the aerodynamics of the aircraft was deteriorating, and the air flow in the tail part of the aircraft was disturbed.


Initially, it was planned to scale up the AN-124 Ruslan aircraft. It was thought that a Ruslan, which is approximately 7 meters larger, would not have this problem. However, the desired feedback could not be obtained in the tests. When the development of AN-124 Ruslan was insufficient, the USSR started a new aircraft project A larger and more advanced project "Article-400" was launched, in honor of the project "Article-200", which is the code name of AN-124.

This vehicle, which will be designed as Article 400, was expected to be able to carry 225 tons of cargo inside. A fully loaded Buran Shuttle was requested to be carried on its back.

While the AN-225 project continued its development, the development of Buran and Energia was completed. The Soviet Union wanted to launch the Buran Shuttle as soon as possible in order not to fall behind in the race. A shorter but urgent solution has been developed for this.

It was planned to modify the Myasishchev 3M bombers, which made its first flight in 1953. The Myasishchev 3M aircraft was a nuclear weapon capable bomber developed just after the Second World War. But with the development of technology, it became obsolete.

Two of these aircraft, which started to come out of the inventory gradually, were selected and modified. For these aircraft, the wings were strengthened, a larger and diagonal vertical tail was added. Various electronic components of the aircraft were also modified.


In 1985, Antonov began to develop the AN-225 in earnest, by order of the Soviet Ministry of Defense. The most famous Soviet engineers were brought to the head of the project. Petr Balabuev wanted the AN-225 to be more similar to the AN-124 Ruslan aircraft in the inventory. But this was not so easy. The Ruslan would be a 4-engine aircraft, while the Mriya would be a 6-engine aircraft.

Also, unlike the AN-225 classic cargo planes, it did not have a rear ramp. This ramp/gate was canceled due to the reduced weight of the aircraft. The number of landing gear on the sides of the fuselage was increased from 10 to 14, and the last three rows of wheels were made steerable so that the giant plane could turn on the runway. This wheel event would create serious interests for the AN-225 in the future.


In order to maintain the aerodynamic balance of the AN-225, the front part of the fuselage was extended by 8 meters and the rear part was shortened by 1 meter. In this way, the Soviet Engineers wanted the future space shuttles of the USSR to be carried with the AN-225, because for the USSR Mriya was not just a cargo plane, but a star.

The AN-225 program was gradually beginning to take on a tangible object. However, there were delays in the program due to economic and engineering-based issues. The project, which was originally planned to be completed in 2 years, took 4 years.

When the production of all the parts was completed, a massive Soviet Aviation product emerged, weighing 640 tons when fully loaded. The assembly of this aircraft was also quite difficult. None of Antonov's hangars were large enough to assemble this massive aircraft made up of parts.


The assembly of the plane was as interesting as itself. Antonov started the assembly by placing the AN-225 diagonally in the largest hangar he had. The assembly was completed successfully, but it was very difficult for the plane to get out of the hangar. For this, liters of oil were poured on the floor of the hangar. When the AN-225 appeared, all Soviet officials attended the ceremony. Gorbachev, the leader of the Soviet Union at that time, named the plane Mriya, which means Dream/Dream in Ukrainian. After this ceremony held on 30 November 1988, ground tests of the aircraft began.

About 20 days later, the first test flight of AN-225 was planned. On December 21, 1988, test pilot Aleksandr Galunenko picked up Mriya for the first time from Gostomel airport near Kyiv. With this flight, the Soviets had an unprecedented aircraft.

But the AN-225 was too late. A month before its maiden flight, the Buran Shuttle made its maiden flight. In addition, the Soviet Union was now experiencing very serious economic problems. The money-strapped Soviet Army and the Soviet Space Agency had now halted most of their space work.


With the Buran Shuttle losing its importance, the AN-225 had a huge cargo capacity, but could not find a job because there was no cargo in this tonnage. However, the Soviets "wanted to eat the bread" of this plane, and on May 13, 1989, it went to the Baikonur Space Base in Kazakhstan with the Buran Shuttle. He made several test flights here. It then participated in the 1989 Paris Air Show in Paris with the shuttle Buran to demonstrate to the West the capabilities of Soviet engineering.

The AN-225 was completely inactive with the collapse of the USSR. Russian oligarchs at the time considered turning the plane into a flying mall, building a mega triple-decker passenger plane, or turning it into a casino for the rich to gamble. But none of this happened.


With these ideas not being realized, the plane was towed to a closed hangar in 1994. On the other hand, the Ukrainian Antonov company has started working to make this plane meet the sky again. Various diplomatic processes were carried out for the aircraft. In addition, extensive maintenance of the aircraft began.

As a result of this process, which lasted from 1997 to 2001, the aircraft was made ready for flight. In 2001, it received its type certificate from the Interstate Aviation Committee on the grounds that it was ready for flight and was safe, and started flights again.


The aircraft, which entered the Ukrainian registration, received the UR-82060 tail registration. After the aircraft was put back into service, it began to be used by Antonov to carry heavy and strategic loads.

Mriya carried interesting and heavy cargo such as 250 tons of special equipment from Prague to Tashkent, the yacht of the King of Spain, humanitarian aid to Pakistan, a generator weighing 174 tons from Frankfurt to Yerevan for the Armenian power station.

In this period, Antonov's firm started working to produce Mriya's brother, after many requests came to Antonov for the transportation of heavy cargo. Only half of this aircraft was completed. Due to budgetary constraints (about $300M), the project was left idle.

This aircraft was primarily tried to be sold to China. Negotiations with China continued until 2017. However, the Chinese gave up the project because their airports were too inefficient for an aircraft of this size and weight.


Ukraine has also submitted an offer to Turkey for the production of AN-225's brother. This issue was brought up again when President of Ukraine Zelensky visited President Erdogan in October 2020. No official statement was made on the subject. The main reason for this may be because the AN-225 was not very useful commercially in this period. Most cargo markets around the world are transported by more minimal aircraft.

In addition, most of today's cargo can be transported by aircraft such as the USA's C-5 Galaxy, 747 Dreamlifter, EU's Beluga XL, Russia's AN-124 Ruslan. Here, Turkey may consider the production of this aircraft, mostly for flag carrier purposes.


While these events were continuing, on February 24, 2022, Russia began to occupy the eastern borders of Ukraine. The AN-225 was damaged in this military operation carried out by the Putin administration to purge the Neo-Nazis in the country. (yeah sure putin)

The world's largest aircraft, the AN-225, caught fire after being bombarded by Russia while it was undergoing maintenance in its military hangar at Gostomel airspace near the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.


The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine shared the situation with the world public opinion by tweeting to confirm this situation. However, the status of the plane remained unclear for several days due to clashes at the airport.