Ukraine aircraft manufacturer Antonov is launching an international fundraising campaign to find the $3 billion it says will be needed to build another An-225 cargo plane. The only An-225 was destroyed during a battle for control of Hostomel Antonov Airport near Kyiv in late February. It’s not clear if the aircraft was intentionally attacked or was collateral damage in the attack. Regardless, its loss struck a nerve and resulted in an outpouring of lament from all over the world. Whether that turns into an outpouring of cash remains to be seen.
Antonov issued a statement on Thursday saying it would take on the project itself but it’s a little strapped these days and needs the help. “Despite these hard times, the Antonov team is resolute in their belief that the irreversible loss of the legendary aircraft as one of the symbols of modernity cannot be allowed and that work must start on the revival of the flagship transport aircraft, AN-225 Mriy,” the company said. “We propose to establish an International Fund.”
National pride notwithstanding, there are some practical considerations involved. The An-225 was the only aircraft that could carry certain pieces of heavy equipment whose rapid deployment is needed in emergencies and national disasters. Although there has been a lot of talk about a second uncompleted An-225 existing, no one seems to know where it is. The An-225 had a maximum takeoff weight of 640 metric tons or about 1.4 million pounds.