The Antonov, world’s largest plane, lands at Ben Gurion Airport
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Heavy lifting

The Antonov, world’s largest plane, lands at Ben Gurion Airport

Massive aircraft brings cargo of US military trucks to be kitted out with Iron Dome missile defense system; hundreds turn out to get a look at one-of-kind jet

The Antonov An-225 Mriya cargo plane carrying US military Oshkosh trucks lands at the Ben-Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, August 3, 2020. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
The Antonov An-225 Mriya cargo plane carrying US military Oshkosh trucks lands at the Ben-Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, August 3, 2020. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The world’s largest plane, the massive Antonov An-225, landed Monday at Ben Gurion International Airport carrying a cargo of US military trucks to be fitted with an Israeli air defense system.

Hundreds of aviation enthusiasts gathered near the airport ahead of the legendary six-engined plan’s arrival to watch it swoop down to the ground. At 84 meters long and with an 88.4-meter wingspan, the plane has the record for carrying the heaviest-ever airlifted cargo of some 253 tons.

The one-of-its-kind Antonov — built in the 1980s in Soviet Ukraine — arrived from the US, carrying US Army Oshkosh trucks that will be fitted with parts to install the Iron Dome missile defense system, for use by the US military.

The trucks, the exact number of which is undisclosed, were to be flown back to America later in the evening.

It is not the first time the plane was in Israel, having made a previous visit in 2008.

In 2019, the US closed a deal to buy two Iron Dome batteries. The system has been used by Israel to intercept rockets and other projectiles fired from the Gaza Strip.

The Antonov was originally constructed to piggyback the Russian “Buran” orbiter, a space shuttle that only made one unmanned flight before being destroyed in a hangar fire.

The An-22 carries the Soviet space shuttle Buran above Le Bourqet airport, north of Paris, France, before landing for the 38th Le Bourget airshow, June 7, 1989. (Michel Lipchitz/AP)

Since then the plane has been used to carry oversized cargo around the world, most recently carrying medical supplies to help in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

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