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World's largest plane 'Mriya' destroyed in Russian shelling in Ukraine

"They (invading Russians) burned the biggest plane (in the world) but our Mriya will never perish ... We will rebuild the plane," Ukraine's Twitter handle declared.

KYIV, Feb 28: Ukraine's AN-225 'Mriya', world's largest plane, mainly designed to handle cargo, was destroyed in Russian shelling on an airfield near Kyiv, Capital city, on Sunday, Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba said.

"The biggest plane in the world, 'Mriya' ('Mriya' means 'Dream' in Ukrainian), was destroyed by Russian occupants on an airfield near Kyiv. We will rebuild the plane. We will fulfill our dream of a strong, free and democratic Ukraine," tweeted Ukraine from their official Twitter handle.

Ukraine's Twitter handle also posted a picture of the plane with a caption: "They burned the biggest plane (in the world) but our Mriya will never perish."

The Commercial Director of Antonov Airlines told The Hindu newspaper, “Today the fact was confirmed that as a result of attack and capture of Ukrainian civil Kyiv-Antonov airport (Hostomel/Gostomel ) by Russian troops, the largest aircraft in the world, AN-225 Mriya, was damaged and burned down. The aircraft was at the home base in Ukraine for maintenance. The loss of this unique aircraft, which was the real piece of technical art, is a great loss not only for Antonov Company and Ukraine, but for the entire aviation world.”

During the covid pandemic, Mriya had ferried 100 tonnes of medicines, laboratory kits, medical masks and personal protective equipment across Europe, Canada and to Africa.

Its name given by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is 'Cossack'. Mriya was a six-engine, 84-metre long, 32-wheel aircraft, mainly handling cargo. Mriya had the capacity to fly up to 250 tonnes of cargo at 850 km per hour. Its first flight was on December 21, 1988.

Ukroboronprom, the State-owned company, said it would cost $3 billion (2.7 billion euros) and take over five years to rebuild the plane.

Mriya was operated by Ukraine's Antonov Airlines.

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