Antonov An-225 Mriya | Strategic airlifter

Antonov An-225 Mriya
Antonov An-225 Mriya

Militarymedia.net - The Antonov An-225 Mriya (dream) is a single-use transport aircraft. It is currently the largest transport aircraft in the world. It is also the longest and heaviest aircraft ever built. It was developed in the 1980s specifically for the Soviet space program. The only Soviet factory, capable of building the high-tech Buran spacecraft, was located in the vicinity of Moscow. But the Baikonur cosmodrome is located in Kazakhstan, about 2,100 km from Moscow. Burans cannot be transported by road or rail because they are too large. So the Soviets needed a large cargo plane to carry the spacecraft. So in its mission the An-225 is similar to the US Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. The first An-225 was completed in 1988 and made its maiden flight that same year. During this flight the aircraft broke 110 world records. Its reporting name in the West is Cossacks.

The An-225 is a larger version of the An-124 and uses a number of its components, such as the same engine and avionics. However the An-225 has 6 engines instead of 4. It should be noted that the smaller An-124 is currently the largest production military transport aircraft in the world.

A total of 2 giant planes are planned to be built. But only one was completed. Work on the second airframe was abandoned in 2009 and remains unfinished. Completion is currently around 60-70% and it will take at least $300 million to complete the work. It will likely never be completed, as there is no demand for another large aircraft.

Antonov An-225 Mriya
Antonov An-225 Mriya

In 1989 the An-225 made its first flight on the space shuttle Buran. In 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the plane was passed to Ukraine. The Buran space program was taken over by Russia, but was finally canceled in 1993 due to funding problems. So the plane lost its only role, which it was designed specifically for. In the former Soviet Air Force, the smaller An-124 was used to carry tanks and other military equipment. Even so, the An-225 has a large cargo compartment, and has the ability to carry a variety of payloads. In 1994 the sole operational An-225 was put into storage, along with an incomplete second airframe. Until the late 1990s the plane was neglected. Some of its parts were cannibalized to keep other An-124 aircraft operational.

In 2000 the only An-225 was reengineered, refurbished and modified for heavy cargo transportation. It flew again in 2001. The aircraft received an international certificate and since 2002 is used commercially by Antonov Airlines Ukraine. Currently operating from London Luton airport. The aircraft carried extremely heavy and oversized payloads, which were either too heavy or would not fit in the smaller An-124. From time to time he carried various military cargoes.

This giant aircraft can carry 250 tons of cargo internally, or 200 tons externally. For example the US C-5M Super Galaxy can only carry 140 tons internally. The An-225 can carry 16 shipping containers, or up to 80 passenger cars. The cargo hold has titanium flooring. The nose of the plane is folded up. The aircraft can kneel in a nose down position to facilitate loading and unloading operations. The maximum payload range is 4000 km.

In fact the first flight of the refurbished aircraft into commercial service was with military cargo. In January 2002 the An-225 flew from Germany to Oman with 216,000 prepared meals for American military personnel, based in the region. This large batch of ready-to-eat meals weighs 187.5 t and is transported on 375 pallets. The An-225 has been contracted by the US and Canadian governments to transport military supplies to the Middle East to support coalition forces. These aircraft can quickly transport large quantities of supplies. Several times the Antonov An-225 has demonstrated its impressive capabilities by carrying 4 to 5 main battle tanks.

Since 2002 the An-225 has been the workhorse of the Antonov Airlines fleet. These planes transport objects that were previously considered impossible to move through the air.

The An-225 is operated by a crew of 6-7 people, including two pilots, technician and loadmaster.

The first and only An-225 aircraft, currently active, is optimized for external payloads. It did not have a rear cargo door, as the lack of such features made it possible to reduce the weight of the aircraft. Also has twin vertical stabilizers. The second fuselage, which is currently incomplete, underwent several design changes. Planned to be more effective for cargo transportation. The second aircraft has redesigned rear cargo doors and tail with one vertical stabilizer.

In 2016 the Antonov company signed a contract with the Aerospace Industry Corporation of China to complete the second airframe and prepare for licensed production of the An-225 aircraft in China.

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