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Antonov AN-225: World’s largest aircraft


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: An-225

Mains level: NA

Amid Moscow’s assault on Ukraine, the world’s largest cargo aircraft, the Antonov AN-225 or ‘Mriya’, was destroyed by Russian troops during an attack on an airport near Kyiv.

Antonov AN-225

  • With a wingspan of over 290-feet, the unique Antonov AN-225 was designed in what was then the Ukrainian USSR during the 1980s amid a tense race to space between the US and the Soviet Union.
  • The plane, nicknamed ‘Mriya’ or ‘dream’ in Ukrainian, is very popular in aviation circles, and is known to attract huge crowds of fans at air shows around the world.
  • It was initially designed as part of the Soviet aeronautical program to carry the Buran, which was the Soviet version of the US’ Space Shuttle.
  • After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, when the Buran program was cancelled, the aircraft was instead used to transport massive cargo loads.

Its manufacturing

  • Only one AN-225 was ever built by the Kyiv-based Antonov Company, the defence manufacturers who originally designed the plane.
  • It is essentially a large version of another design by the Antonoc Company — the four-engine An-124 ‘Condor’, which is used by the Russian Air Force.
  • The aircraft first took flight in 1988 and has been in use ever since.
  • In the recent past, it has been used for delivering relief supplies during calamities in neighbouring nations.


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