During an online meeting with Ukrainian students on Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced his intention to build another Mriya aircraft. The project would be a dedication to the memory of the pilots who unfortunately lost their lives in the war and, in particular, during the defense of Mariupol.
The idea of a second Mriya
When the world’s biggest aircraft was destroyed by Russian occupants on an airfield near Kyiv in late February, Zelensky had idealized building the An-225 again.
A second aircraft is still awaiting resumption on construction as the Antonov program initially planned to create two aircraft. Unfortunately, a lack of finance and eventual interest meant that the second Mriya’s construction was terminated in 1994. The idea was briefly revived in 2009 but was again halted due to the massive sums of money necessary.
The second aircraft is approximately only 70% completed, with avionics and other aerospace components needing to be installed. With an aircraft of that size, the cost of resuming the construction ranged from about $400 million in capital to about $800 million.
Thus, the Antonov team has been looking for a suitable investor to aid in the development of the incomplete Mriya aircraft. Turkey had expressed its interest in completing the aircraft. However, getting the funds needed for the hefty price tag was still a significant hindrance, as highlighted by Zelensky:
“We wanted to build it, [and] we needed $800 million. I appealed to the President of Turkey with a proposal to build the 2nd Mriya, but we did not find the money.”
And thus, the idea of a second Mriya being built remained as such, an idea.
The image of Ukraine
Perhaps, the idea might become a reality soon as Zelensky wishes to think beyond the heavy price tag. Instead, he hopes to think of a second Mriya tad a dedication to the fallen Ukrainians whom he deemed as “heroic people,” as he emphasized, and as reported by Airlive:
“But in this case, it’s not a matter of money, it’s a matter of ambition. We were approached by Ukroboronprom, the Antonov team. This is a question of the image of our country and all the excellent professional pilots who died in this war.”
In particular, Zelensky wishes to continue the construction of the second aircraft to honor the memory of those who lost their lives defending Mariupol as he goes on:
“How much they have done, and today we can already say how many lives of people who remained in Mariupol, especially in Azovstal they saved. How many pilots gave their lives to bring everything there, from weapons to water. And how many wounded they took from there. A large number of these people died heroically. To build a MRIYA for the sake of the memory of heroes is the right state position.”
It is uncertain if the price tag will be funded directly by Ukraine itself or if Antonov would seek willing investors, given how well-loved the An-225 aircraft was. But if there is one thing for sure, a second Mriya is no longer just an idea.
The future of another Mriya
As the second An-225 has already been started, a new iteration of the giant aircraft isn’t completely far fetched. However, given the costs involved and the very niche role that the Mriya fulfils, you have to wonder whether, in the cold light of day, Ukraine won’t be more keen to spend its money on the many other projects the people will need completed when the Russian assault finally ends.
Still, the world can hope, and the completion of the second Mriya would certainly be a fitting tribute to the fallen defenders of the country.