Soviet-built Antonov Airlines Antonov An-225 Mriya strategic airlift cargo aircraft Photograph:( AFP )
Antonov An-225 Mriya aircraft is reportedly carrying military cargo from Afghanistan as US and NATO troops pull out of the region.
Antonov An-225 Mriya the world's heaviest aircraft made a stopover at Karachi airport on Wednesday after taking off from Kyiv’s Gostomel Antonov Airport in Ukraine in its first flight in nearly a year.
The big bird landed in Karachi's Jinnah International Airport from Afghanistan. The plane is reportedly carrying military cargo from Afghanistan as US and NATO troops pull out of the region.
The aircraft last flew in August last year to Tel Aviv. It was grounded last year amid the coronavirus crisis as air traffic dipped. The latest flight was closely tracked by enthusiasts worldwide, especially in Pakistan as it landed.
✈️ Antonov Airlines— Intel Air & Sea (@air_intel) June 24, 2021
Left Karachi with 3 RAF Puma helicopters on their way back from Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/d0RRH4xIzu
The strategic cargo aircraft was built during the Soviet era in the 1980s and flew for the first time in 1988. The plane has the longest wingspan including 32 wheels and six turbofan engines.
It was initially designed to airlift Soviet rocket boosters and Buran-class orbiters but was put in storage in the 90s after the collapse of the former Soviet Union. It was brought back into service as demand grew for moving large cargo.
The Antonov An-225 undertook the first commercial flight in 2002 when it flew from Stuttgart to Oman for the American military personnel. The plane is part of Antonov Airlines. The An-225 has undertaken several emergency operations including in disaster zones worldwide.
It has carried everything from wind turbine blades, battle tanks, tonnes of ready-to-eat meals for the US forces and even carried 150-tonne generators.
(With inputs from Agencies)