Here’s what remains of Antonov Airport, home of the An-225 Mriya.
On Mar. 31, 2022, following the statements regarding a reduction in activity around Kyiv, and reporting indicating the withdrawal of some units from these areas, Russian troops left their positions in Hostomel (or Gostomel) airport, near Kyiv. The move follows peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations in Istanbul on Tuesday and the plan of Moscow of moving some forces away from the area to refocus in Donetsk and Luhansk.
Although the withdrawal of some Russian forces from the area around the Ukrainian capital is seen by the Western intelligence as a “major” strategy shift by Moscow, and troops could be reversed again if the battle conditions allow, the liberation of Hostomel allowed a Ukrainian cinematographic company to launch a drone over the airport and film the widespread devastation at Antonov Airport, where a fierce battle between Ukrainian Armed Forces and Russians took place between Feb. 25 and 26, during the opening phases of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The HD footage leaves little room for imagination: you can see the status of the buildings, aprons and, above all, the large hangar of the An-225 Mriya. The roof has partially collapsed, the front section of the world’s largest cargo aircraft completely destroyed. We can see that a “chunk” of the left wing is there, although its status is unclear. You can also spot some other light aircraft recovered in the same hangar.
We had already seen the images of the wreckage in footage shot by a Russian media outlet, but the drone video provides additional context.
On Mar. 24, 2022, Antonov kicked off a fundraiser to revive the “Mriya”.
“In February 2022 a disaster happened. During the aggression against Ukraine the An-225 “Mriya” plane was destroyed”, said a letter signed by Antonov CEO Sergii Bychkov, posted on social media. “This loss has stunned the team of Antonov DP, the global aviation community, numerous cargo customers of the largest aircraft. Despite the difficult times, the team of Antonov DP strongly considers it necessary to prevent the complete irreversible loss of the legendary aircraft as one of the symbols of modernity and to begin work on the restoration of the flagship of transport aviation, the An-225 “Mriya”. For this there are all things – structural and scientific and technical documentation, namely the main thing – presence, great desire and inspiration of the team of Antonov”. Unfortunately, in a difficult time for Ukraine Antonov, there is a lack of funds to carry out this task. We propose to establish the International Fund for the rebuilding of the transport aircraft An-225 “Mriya”.
As we commented, the letter does not say how much money the company needs to rebuild/restore the aircraft, if the remains of the aircraft have been already secured or moved, how much of the airframe has eventually survived; etc. and the post on Facebook received a significant amount of negative comments by people criticizing the fact that the aircraft was not moved to a safe spot before the invasion or that fundraising activities should be aimed at rebuilding houses destroyed in the war or given to childcare associations, etc. Anyway, the latest drone footage confirms that restoring or rebuilding the An-225 seems to be an extremely complex operation.