australian aviation logo

Antonov An-124 visits RAAF Base Amberley with Ukraine message

written by Adam Thorn | December 22, 2022

Craig Murray shot this Antonov An-124, UR-82008 at RAAF Base Amberley

Australian Aviation photographer Craig Murray has captured the moment an Antonov An-124 landed at RAAF Base Amberley on 7 December.

The four-engined Ukrainian aircraft’s livery now carries the message ‘Be Brave Like Okhtyrka’, in honour of the city bombed early in the Russian invasion of the country. UR-82008 has visited Australia multiple times and arrived as flight ADB327F from Honolulu.

The 36-year-old cargo plane, one of the world’s heaviest, was created by Antonov Design Bureau in Ukraine itself.

It’s, however, best known as being a smaller version of the AN-225 cargo plane that was destroyed in a Russian attack on an airfield near Kyiv in February.

Dubbed “Mriya”, which means “The Dream” in Ukrainian, the jet was reportedly under repair and routine maintenance at the Antonov Company site in Gostomel Airport when it was destroyed.


“The biggest plane in the world ‘Mriya’ (The Dream), was destroyed by Russian occupants on an airfield near Kyiv,” Ukraine said in a statement on Twitter. “We will rebuild the plane. We will fulfil our dream of a strong, free, and democratic Ukraine.”

The defence ministry said it would cost over US$3 billion to restore the aircraft, and the project would take over five years, though unconfirmed reports state that reconstruction work has begun and is already 30 per cent complete.

In June, Australian Aviation reported how Virgin Australia founder Sir Richard Branson visited the airfield that was home to AN-225.

“Following an invitation from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, I travelled to Kyiv today to meet with the President, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, and a group of Ukrainian business leaders,” wrote Sir Richard in a blog post.

“I also visited some of the sites of Russian attacks during the now more than 130 days since Putin’s appalling invasion began.

“My main purpose in going to Kyiv was to meet and listen to Ukrainians, to understand their fears and concerns and also to learn what business, in partnership with civil society and governments, can do to support Ukraine most effectively.

“My first site visit took me to a residential area hit by a Russian missile strike just a few days ago. Looking at the ruins of a burnt-out kindergarten, far away from any kind of target of strategic relevance, it is clear these kinds of attacks are not unintended and arbitrary. They are part of a deliberate strategy to spread fear and terror among Ukraine’s civilian population. I hope the Russian perpetrators of these shocking acts will be held to account.

“A little later, I visited Gostomel Airport, just a short drive north of Kyiv’s centre. The scene of intense fighting in the early days of the invasion, this airfield was home to the famed Antonov AN-225, the world’s largest transport plane and the pride of Ukrainian aviation.

“Affectionately nicknamed Mriya (Dream), this magnificent six-engine aircraft was destroyed in the battle for control of the airport, and all that remains is a burned-out wreck. But there were people hard at work trying to salvage it — they have already decided to rebuild.

“I hope that Mriya’s legacy will endure, and that the international community will find ways to help Ukraine rebuild not only this airfield, but bring Ukraine’s aerospace industry back to life.”

The AN-225 travelled to Australia for the first time in May 2016, when it touched down in Perth, carrying a 135-tonne generator for a resources company.

Anticipating massive public interest in the massive aircraft, Perth Airport even put up a dedicated viewing area for the public to see the six-engine behemoth.

You need to be a member to post comments. Become a member today!

You don't have credit card details available. You will be redirected to update payment method page. Click OK to continue.