For the first time, the Russian Air Force conducted a mass launch of 6 AN-124 (Nato reporting name Condor) cargo aircraft, to practice the combat capability of large formation operations of heavy aircraft. The flights were carried out at an altitude of over 4 thousand meters, the total length of the route was more than 600 km, the average aircraft speed was 500 km/h. Crews of six An-124-100 Ruslan aircraft from the Seshchinsky and Tver aviation regiments took part in the training flights. The purpose of the training flights was to improve the skills of young crews of Antonov AN-124 transport aircraft.
The Antonov An-124 Ruslan (NATO reporting name: Condor) is a large, strategic airlift, four-engined aircraft that was designed in the 1980s by the Antonov design bureau in the Ukrainian SSR, then part of the Soviet Union (USSR). Until the Boeing 747-8F, the An-124 was, for thirty years, the world’s heaviest gross weight production cargo airplane and second heaviest operating cargo aircraft, behind the one-off Antonov An-225 Mriya (a greatly enlarged design based on the An-124). The An-124 remains the largest military transport aircraft in current service. The lead designer of the An-124 (and the An-225) was Viktor Tolmachev.
In August 2014, it was reported that plans to resume joint production of the Antonov An-124 had been shelved due to the ongoing political tensions between Russia and Ukraine. The sole remaining production facility is Russia’s Aviastar-SP in Ulyanovsk. The various operators of the An-124 are in discussions with respect to the continuing airworthiness certification of the individual An-124 planes. The original designer of the An-124 is responsible for managing the certification process for its own products, but the Russia-Ukraine conflicts are making this process difficult to manage. In 2019, there were 26 An-124s in commercial service.