A Glimpse of the World’s Largest Aircraft Destroyed amid Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Russian forces have targeted several airports and airbases across Ukraine, including Antonov International Airport, approximately 27 kilometers northwest of Kyiv. The airport came under Russian attack on February 24, and amid the subsequent fighting, the world’s largest operational plane—the Antonov An-225 Mriya—was destroyed. Satellite imagery captured by Planet on February 28 reveals significant damage to the airport’s hangars.

The An-225 was reportedly undergoing maintenance when it came under attack. While only the aircraft's tail is visible in available satellite imagery, the damage to the hangar where the An-225 is housed strongly indicates that the aircraft was heavily damaged.

The An-225 was a cargo aircraft that first came into service to support the Soviet space program before being repurposed for commercial usage. Its name, “Mriya,” translates to “dream” in Ukrainian.

Photo: Ugur Can/dia images/Getty Images

Describing the attack, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter that “This was the world’s largest aircraft. . . . Russia may have destroyed our 'Mriya.’ But they will never be able to destroy our dream of a strong, free and democratic European state. We shall prevail!”

Matthew P. Funaiole is the director of the iDeas Lab and senior fellow with the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. is a senior fellow for imagery analysis (non-resident) with the CSIS iDeas Lab and Korea Chair. Jennifer Jun is a program coordinator and research assistant with the CSIS iDeas Lab and Korea Chair.

Special thanks to Jaehyun Han for her research support. Imagery markups by William Taylor.

Commentary is produced by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a private, tax-exempt institution focusing on international public policy issues. Its research is nonpartisan and nonproprietary. CSIS does not take specific policy positions. Accordingly, all views, positions, and conclusions expressed in this publication should be understood to be solely those of the author(s).

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Matthew P. Funaiole
Vice President, iDeas Lab, Andreas C. Dracopoulos Chair in Innovation and Senior Fellow, China Power Project
Jennifer Jun
Project Manager and Research Associate (Imagery Analysis), iDeas Lab and Korea Chair