The Antonova An-225 “Mriya” was the largest cargo plane in the world before it was destroyed earlier this year as Russian forces invaded Ukraine. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy then announced the plane would rise again to honor the fallen who gave their lives defending Mariupol in the early days of the war. That rebuild will likely need to be delayed as it will take half a billion to get a Mriya back in the sky.
Manufacturer Antonov is still around and assessing just how much rebuilding the Mriya will cost. The $504 million is just a rough estimate, and a lot cheaper than originally estimated, according to Simply Flying:
After inspecting what is left of the Antonov An-225, experts have estimated that €500 million ($500 million) will be needed to reconstruct the mega aircraft. Nonetheless, the Ukrainian manufacturer has also stated it is too soon to talk about a precise amount of money. Therefore, the exact sum will be made public at a second stage.
The Mriya was originally built as a support plane meant to carry orbiters for the Soviet space program. Two planes were supposed to be built, but once the Soviet Union collapsed, construction of the second plane halted and the Mriya went into storage. The first plane later emerged in the early 2000s, and was famous for carrying some of the largest cargo loads ever. The frame of the unbuilt plane is about 70 percent complete, and could be finished for roughly $800 million, Zelenskyy said in May.
Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The Battle for Hostomel Airport, northwest of Kyiv and home to the Mriya cargo plane, began the very next day. The airport was perfectly situated to allow plane loads of soldiers easy access to its capable of delivering troops to the region and so was vital for the Russians to take over the airport. Russia did eventually captured the airport, only to withdraw a month later on March 28 after a solid month of heavy fighting. In May, we got a better look at the devastation wrought by the invading army:
The Mriya, which means “dream” or “inspiration” in Ukrainian, cost $30,000 an hour to operate and so was usually reserved only for the heaviest of loads. It’s last flight was delivering 1,900 pounds of emergency COVID-19 supplies from China to Denmark in February 2022. That load is nothing compared to the heaviest ever hauled by the Mriya—559,577 pounds.