The AN-225 contrail thread, and questions within, got me thinking back to something I wondered about - why is there no AN-124 competitor.
The AN-124 was built as a military counter for the C-5, in a 'they have one, we must have one', and the AN-225 was built out of necessity for the Buran project.
Both models have proven invaluable on the commercial market after the Soviet Union collapse in the 1990s, with new AN-124s coming off the production line and older verisons being brought up to the new standard. This pretty much proves its viability, if people are buying then theres a market, and with old AN-124s only rated for 7,500 hours and new ones rated for 24,000 hours, theres got to be a case for followon sales.
So why has there never been a competitor? The Boeing 747 freighter comes nowhere near in terms of lifting power or capacity, the C-5 never sold a civilian airframe, and unless Im forgetting about an aircraft or two there doesnt seem to be anything else in the AN-124s class.