THE world’s largest aircraft which can carry up to TEN battle tanks has paid a flying visit to an RAF base before jetting off to Greece. The six engine An-225 Mriya – developed to carry a Soviet Union space shuttle – is operated by Ukrainian owner Antonov Airlines.
However, the company now hires out the giant cargo plane to those looking to carry to loads of up to whopping 250 tonnes.
Antonov has recently opened a new base at Stansted Airport, so the impressive jet is no stranger to British runways.
The Ukraine-built sky giant measures 275 feet (84 meters) long, with a 288-foot (88 meters) wingspan – which is almost twice the width of a football field.
According to the Oxfordshire’s RAF base: “The heaviest aircraft ever built has visited RAF Brize Norton this week.
“The Antonov AN-225 Mriya, which has 32 wheels and wingspan of over 88 metres, was originally designed to transport equipment for the Soviet Space programme including the Buran orbiter which was carried on the aircraft’s back.
“Today, this huge aircraft is used to transport outsize or ultra-heavy cargo on behalf of customers including the UK MOD who charter the aircraft to supplement its own fleet of aircraft when circumstances dictate.”
The giant jet is capable of carrying a payload equivalent to ten battle tanks or some 250,000 kilos at a time.
The Mriya, which means “dream” in Ukrainian, is powered by six turbofan engines, can transport 30 cars, has 32 wheels and a total wing area of 905 sq m, almost twice that of a jumbo jet.
It is typically staffed by 22 people, including pilots and loading crew, are all based in Kiev.