World’s Largest Aircraft to Ship NATO Freight – Airplanes

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has hired a Russian company to haul oversized freight in the Antonov An-124, a Soviet-era aircraft, and the world’s largest jet. Volga-Dnepr, the plane’s manufacturer, is trying to raise the money needed to restart production of the aircraft which was halted in 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union. At that time, only 56 of the An-124s had been completed.

Conceived as a freighter for the Soviet military, the first An-124 made its maiden flight in 1982. Three years later, it set a world record with a payload of 377,000 pounds while flying at an altitude of 35,000 feet.

NATO’s contract with Volga-Dnepr is temporary and expected only to last until Airbus Military Company begins producing the A400M cargo aircraft. The A400M will probably not be ready for several more years.