Russia recently announced a plan to reactivate former Soviet jets to offset Western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.
In addition to eight Tu-204/214s and two Il-96 widebodies, the Russian government has included an An-124, the massive freighter developed by Ukrainian manufacturer Antonov.
According to Aero.de, the aircraft may be the four-engine registration RA-80280, the final delivered in 2004.
Although relatively new, the An-124 flew for a short time for the now bankrupt Polet Airlines. It would have accumulated only 8,000 flight hours between 2004 and 2012, when it was stored
in Ulyanovsk, the same city where Aviastar-SP produced it, hence the supposed interest in reactivating it.
12 km long taxiway
It is worth noting that, although the An-124 had an assembly line in Kiev, where Antonov’s headquarters are located, even in the days when Russia and Ukraine maintained strong ties, the cargo aircraft also had a second plant in Ulyanovsk, located 700 km from Moscow.
According to records, the RA-82080 was delivered in May 2004 to Polet, a month after the An-124 RA-82081 was sent to Volga-Dnepr. Both and others of Antonov’s last jets would have been manufactured in 1999, but not completed until later.
Antonov even had some airframes started in Kiev, but which should never be completed. Aviastar-SP was founded in 1976 to produce not only the An-124 but also the Tupolev Tu-204 passenger jet.
The manufacturer’s facilities in Ulyanovsk are quite curious, with the assembly lines located within the urban area, but which are linked by a taxiway with more than 12 km in length to the airport used for testing. It would be in this place that the An-124 RA-8080 would be, along with other deactivated aircraft.