Jack Guy, CNN •
(CNN) — The world’s largest aircraft, the Antonov AN-225, has been destroyed during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to Ukrainian officials, generating alarm and sadness among the aviation world in which it occupies almost cult status.
The enormous aircraft, named “Mriya,” or “dream” in Ukrainian, was parked at an airfield near Kyiv when it was attacked by “Russian occupants,” Ukrainian authorities said, adding that they would rebuild the plane.
“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!” wrote Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Twitter.
There has been no independent confirmation of the aircraft’s destruction. A tweet from the Antonov Company said it could not verify the “technical condition” of the aircraft until it had been inspected by experts.
Ukrainian state defense company Ukroboronprom, which manages Antonov, on Sunday issued a statement saying the aircraft had been destroyed but would be rebuilt at Russia’s expense — a cost it put at $3 billion.
“The restoration is estimated to take over 3 billion USD and over five years,” the statement said. “Our task is to ensure that these costs are covered by the Russian Federation, which has caused intentional damage to Ukraine’s aviation and the air cargo sector.
In a later statement, the company said the airplane had been in on the ground near Kyiv on February 24 undergoing maintenance.