On August 12, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) detained Professor Alexander Kuranov in Moscow. He is one of Russian top hypersonic scientists and is suspected of passing state secrets to foreign countries in recent years.
The Moscow court confirmed that the FSB had sent a request for his arrest for two months. A preventive measure will be chosen by the court later on August 12. Cases of treason are classified as “secret”: the court considers them in closed doors, only the sentences are officially reported.
Alexander Kuranov is a key figure in development of hypersonic technologies in Russia.
He is the general director and chief designer of the Scientific Research Enterprise of Hypersonic Systems (NIPGS), which is run by the Leninets holding company. As part of that role, he leads the Ayaks program that is under development. Kuranov also heads the directorate of the Leninets HC in the direction of “New Hypersonic Technologies” and coordinates the work of scientists from various enterprises of the Russian aerospace complex.
He is specialized in the core technologies of the Ayaks concept, like conversion of hydrocarbon fuel, plasma aerodynamics, methods of electromagnetic flow control in the development of a magnetoplasmochemical engine.
The Ayaks technology was proposed in the late 80s in the USSR. The author of this concept was Vladimir Lvovich Freishtadt, who worked in NIPGS. Vladimir Freishtadt solve the main problem of cooling the airframe at the hypersonic speed. He proposed not to protect a vehicle from heat, but rather to let heat inside to increase the energy resource of the device.
The Ayaks project was revolutionary and ensured Russia’s leadership in the development of hypersonic aircraft for many years.
The development of such an aircraft with military purposes would provide a significant advantage in the course of military operations. It would be still a problem for any modern air defense system to shoot it down, since the exorbitant flight speed of the aircraft would not allow the target recognition systems to work properly.
Ayaks is one of the key Russian technologies.
In its turn, the United States is highly interested in receiving information about Russian developments in the this sphere. This is especially important amid the numerous failures of the latest tests of their own hypersonic vehicles.
The probability of the involvement of foreign intelligence services in this case is high. Their contacts with Kuranov are possible, as for several years he was the organizer of the Russian-American symposium “Thermochemical and plasma processes in Aerodynamics”, which is held in St. Petersburg. He also participated in international associations and worked on orders from many countries.
Moreover, his arrest comes after Briton David Smith, a security guard at the British embassy in Germany, was taken for questioning on suspicion of passing confidential information to the Kremlin.
Apparently, there have been significant leaks of information about Russian developments, since this is not the first detention among Russian scientists that has taken place recently.
Russian scientist Anatoly Gubanov was arrested for high treason in December. He worked on a project aimed to create a hypersonic glider HEXAFLY-INT. The research was carried out within the framework of an international project funded by the European Community and the European Space Agency (ESA).
If the Russian FSB failed to prevent the transfer of secret technologies or any related information and Washington and its allies got them, then this could be compared with the successful operation of the Soviet special services aimed to obtain American nuclear technologies in the late 40s and early 50s of the 20th century.
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