The Antonov An-225 Mriya (dream) is a one-off transport aircraft. Currently it is the world’s largest transport aircraft. Also it is the longest and heaviest aircraft ever built. It was developed in the 1980s specially for the Soviet space program. The only Soviet factories, capable of building a high-tech Buran spacecraft, were located around Moscow. However the Baikonur cosmodrome was located in Kazakhstan, approximately 2,100 km from Moscow. The Buran could not be transported by road or rail due to its oversized dimensions. So the Soviets needed a large cargo aircraft 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 during the same year. During this flight the aircraft set 110 world records. Its reporting name in the West was Cossack.
The An-225 is a larger version of the An-124 and uses a number of its components, such as the same engines and avionics. However the An-225 has got 6 engines instead of 4. It is worth noting that the smaller An-124 is currently the world’s largest production military transport aircraft.
Antonov An-124 Condor
The Antonov An-124 Ruslan (NATO designation Condor) is named after a legendary giant. It is broadly similar to the slightly smaller Lockheed C-5 Galaxy. Currently the An-124 is the world’s largest production military aircraft. Only the one-off An-225 is bigger. Development of this long-range heavy transport plane started in 1971. It was intended to replace the turboprop-powered An-22 Antei. This airlifter made its maiden flight in 1982 and entered service with the Soviet Air Forces in 1987. With its introduction the An-124 has set a number of world records. A total of 54 Antonov An-124 Ruslan aircraft were delivered by late 1995. Currently over 40 are in service. Most of these aircraft are in commercial use and only a small number are assigned directly to the air transport arm of the Russian air forces. However there is provision for many civil-registered aircraft to be called into military service if necessary. Russia remains the only military operator of the Ruslan.Commercial An-124 aircraft were widely used carrying military cargo during NATO operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Recently a number of improved versions of the An-124 have been proposed. Production of this plane was stopped in the early 90s with the collapse of the Soviet Union, but might be resumed if there will be new orders.
The An-124 has 25% larger payload capacity than the C-5 Galaxy. It accommodates 88 passengers in the upper deck. This aircraft can take additional 350 passengers in the cargo compartment, seated on a palletized seating system.
Image @acp-logistics.comImage @slideshare.net
The cargo hold of this strategic airlifter can carry virtually any load, including virtually all Russian armored combat vehicles, helicopters, and other oversized cargo. The cargo hold has a titanium floor. Nose of the aircraft folds upwards. The aircraft can kneel in a nose-down position to ease loading and unloading operations. Also there are large loading doors at the rear.
There is a 30 t capacity on-board overhead crane. Items up to 120 t can be winched on board. Maximum payload capacity of this aircraft is 150 t.
|Country of origin||Soviet Union|
|Dimensions and weight|
|Wing span||73.3 m|
|Weight (empty)||175 t|
|Weight (maximum take off)||405 t|
|Engines and performance|
|Engines||4 x ZMKB Progress D-18T turbofan engines|
|Traction (dry / with afterburning)||4 x 229.47 kN|
|Maximum cruising speed||865 km/h|
|Service ceiling||12 km|
|Range (with maximum payload)||4 500 km|
|Range (with 40 t payload)||12 000 km|
|Ferry range||16 000 km|
|Maximum payload||150 t|
|Troops||88 + 350 men|
|Cargo compartment dimensions||36 x 6.4 x 4.4 m|
Antonov An-124 @military-today.com
A total of 2 giant aircraft were planned to be built. However only one was completed. Work on the second airframe was abandoned in 2009 and it is still incomplete. Its current completion is around 60-70% and at least $300 million are required to finish the work. It is likely that it will never be completed, because there is no demand for another such large aircraft.
China and Ukraine agree to restart An-225 production: Here
China and Ukraine have signed an agreement to recommence production of the Antonov An-225 ‘Cossack’ strategic airlifter, media from both countries have reported.
The agreement signed between the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and Antonov on 30 August gives China access to the aircraft’s designs and technologies for the purposes of domestic production, according to China’s STCN news organisation and the Ukrainian Business Channel (UBR). Gareth Jennings, London – IHS Jane’s 31 August 2016
In 1989 the An-225 made its first flights with Buran space shuttle. In 1991, after collapse of the Soviet Union the aircraft was passed on to Ukraine. The Buran space program was taken over by Russia, but eventually in 1993 it was cancelled due to funding problems. So the aircraft lost its only role, that t is was specially designed for. In the former Soviet Air Force a smaller An-124 was used to carry tanks and other military equipment. Still though the An-225 had a large cargo compartment, and had the capability to carry various loads. In 1994 the sole operational An-225 was placed into storage, together with the second incomplete airframe. Until the late 1990s the aircraft was neglected. Some of its parts were cannibalized to keep other An-124 aircraft operational.
In the year 2000 the sole An-225 was re-engined, refurbished and modified for heavy cargo transport. It flew again in 2001. The aircraft received international certificates and since 2002 it is in commercial use by the Ukrainian Antonov Airlines. Currently it operates from London Luton airport. This aircraft carries ultra-heavy and oversized loads, that are too heavy or do not fit inside the smaller An-124. From time to time it carries various military cargo.
This giant aircraft can carry a whooping 250 t of cargo internally, or 200 t externally. For example the US C-5M Super Galaxy can carry only 140 t internally. The An-225 can carry 16 shipping containers, or up to 80 passenger cars.
Its cargo hold has a titanium floor. Nose of the aircraft folds upwards. The aircraft can kneel in a nose-down position to ease loading and unloading operations. Range with maximum payload is 4 000 km.
Image @jetphotos.netView of the cockpit when the nose is open @airlinereporter.comNose gear @wikimedia.org
In fact the first flight of refurbished aircraft in commercial service was with military cargo. In Januarry 2002 the An-225 flew from Germany to Oman with 216 000 ready meals for American military personnel, based in the region. This vast number of ready meals weighted 187.5 t and was transported on 375 pallets.
The An-225 has been contracted by the US and Canadian governments to airlift military supplies to the Middle East in support of coalition forces. This aircraft can quickly transport huge quantities of supplies. A number of times the Antonov An-225 demonstrated its impressive capabilities by carrying 4 to 5 main battle tanks.
Since 2002 the An-225 has become the workhorse of the Antonov Airlines fleet. This aircraft transported objects that were previously thought impossible to move by air.
The An-225 is operated by a crew of 6-7 men, including two pilots, technicians and loadmaster.
Image @strangemilitary.comImage @airliners.net
The first An-225 aircraft, that is currently active, was optimized for external loads. It lacks rear cargo doors, as lack of such feature allowed to decrease the weight of the aircraft. Also it has twin vertical stabilizers.
The second airframe, that is currently incomplete, had some design changes. It was planned to be more effective for cargo transportation. The second aircraft has a rear cargo door and a redesigned tail with a single vertical stabilizer.
6 x Progress D-18T turbofans
Designed to power heavy transport aircraft. Installed on the An-124 and An-124-100 Ruslan aircraft and the An-225 Mriya extra high load capacity transport aircraft. The engine has the Type Certificate. In conformity with existing ICAO Environmental Standards requirements. In commercial production since 1999. Source @ivchenko-progress.com
Image @blenderartists.orgImage @cgtrader.com
Image @cgtrader.comImage @cgtrader.com
Data from forecastinternational.com
- Type: Three-spool high bypass turbofan engine with a single-stage fan
- Length: 5.4 m (212.6 in)
- Width: 2.93 m (115.6 in)
- Height: 2.79 m (109.9 in)
- Fan diameter: 2.33 m (91.73 in)
- Dry weight: 4,100 kg (9,039 lb)
- Compressor: Seven-stage IP compressor, seven-stage axial HP compressor
- Combustors: Annular combustion system
- Turbine: Single-stage HP turbine, single-stage IP turbine, four‑stage LP turbine
- Maximum thrust: 23,430 Kgf; 229.85 kN (51,670 lbf)
- Overall pressure ratio: 27.5
- Bypass ratio: 5.7
- Turbine inlet temperature: 1,600 K (1,327 °C; 2,420 °F)
- Thrust-to-weight ratio: Approx 5.7:1
|Country of origin||Soviet Union|
|Crew||6 – 7 men|
|Dimensions and weight|
|Wing span||88.4 m|
|Weight (empty)||250 t|
|Weight (maximum take off)||600 t|
|Engines and performance|
|Engines||6 x Progress D-18T turbofans|
|Traction||6 x 229.47 kN|
|Maximum speed||850 km/h|
|Cruising speed||800 km/h|
|Service ceiling||11.6 km|
|Range (with 200 t payload)||4 000 km|
|Ferry range||15 400 km|
|Maximum payload||250 t|
|Typical payload||150 – 200 t|
|Cargo compartment dimensions||43.35 x 6.4 x 4.4 m|