New Footage Suggests An-225 Badly Damaged In Ukraine Fighting

Damaged Antonov An-225 in hangar
Credit: Via Twitter

New imagery from Ukraine suggests the only example of the world’s largest aircraft, the Antonov An-225, was badly damaged during fighting at the company’s airfield at Hostomel, near Kyiv. 

The footage, apparently recorded within the first two days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and published on social media on March 3, shows the aircraft sitting under the airfield’s giant-arch-shaped, open-ended hangar, which has been blackened by fire.  

Although of poor quality, the video shows the An-225’s innermost port engine still attached to the wing, but its nose is apparently dislocated from the rest of the fuselage.  

Satellite imagery released earlier this week of the airfield geolocated the six-engine aircraft to the same hangar. The An-225’s twin tails could be seen sticking out one end of the building.   

Antonov also published the imagery but called for caution in evaluations of the aircraft’s condition, saying “until the aircraft had been inspected by experts, we cannot report on the technical condition.” 

The company message continued: “Please wait for the official announcements about the condition of the aircraft.” 

It is unclear how easy that will be for Antonov engineers. The airfield was the scene of intense fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces, who had tried to capture the facility in a bid to open an airhead for reinforcements. Fighting in the area reportedly continues. 

The An-225 was built by the Soviet Union to ferry the Buran space shuttle but was later converted into an outsized cargo lifter for Antonov International Airlines. Its nickname, Mriya, which means “dream” in Ukrainian, spoke to the national and even international interest in the unique six-engine aircraft throughout its service life. 

Several other aircraft have also reportedly been destroyed at the airfield, including Antonov’s An-22 turboprop airlifter and one of the company’s An-74s. 

Meanwhile, Antonov’s An-124s are continuing to operate around the world, with several being used by NATO to move equipment into Eastern Europe as part of the alliance’s defensive plans. 

Tony Osborne

Based in London, Tony covers European defense programs. Prior to joining Aviation Week in November 2012, Tony was at Shephard Media Group where he was deputy editor for Rotorhub and Defence Helicopter magazines.