“I had not realized that the plane was there to this day,” said Stephen Braun, the co-author of a book on the gunrunner called “Merchant of Death.” “But the irony is that this, this junk or whatever it’s use now has, in essence, far outlived Viktor Bout’s enterprise.”
The hulking, Soviet-era cargo plane has sat for decades under the blazing sun in a remote corner of the United Arab Emirates, its four jet engines silent after years in the employ of a Russian gunrunner known as the “Merchant of Death,” AP reports.
But instead of a missile or gunfire finally taking out this Ilyushin Il-76 tied to arms smuggler Viktor Bout, the plane appears to be doomed, destined for scrap to make way for a force more powerful in this federation of seven sheikhdoms: Luxury real estate.
The emirate of Umm al-Quwain plans a $675 million development on a island just across a lagoon from the deactivated airport where Bout’s plane sits.
His legacy, however, lives on even as workers disassemble the aircraft’s wings — Bout is in the news again as Russia has suggested America trade him for U.S. citizens held by Moscow amid its war on Ukraine.
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