Russia Sends Hypersonic Missile Scientist To Prison

( – Russia, China, and the US were all developing hypersonic missiles in 2020. The following year, China shocked the world by testing one of theirs. Several of the scientists who worked on Russia’s hypersonic program have been jailed in recent years. Recently, one of them was sent to prison.

On April 18, a Russian court sentenced the former head of the country’s hypersonic technology program to seven years in jail. Authorities arrested Alexander Kuranov, 76, in 2021. At that time, he was the general director of the Hypersonics Systems Research Facility in St. Petersburg. He supervised the work on the country’s Soviet-era hypersonic aircraft, called Ayaks.

Russian officials accused Kuranov of giving information about the hypersonic program to a foreign citizen. He was tried for espionage and treason. Two trials were held in the case before he received a conviction. He will now be sent to a high-security prison

Another scientist was arrested and charged in 2023 for similar crimes. Alexander Shiplyuk was the former leader of Siberia’s Khristianovich Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (ITAM). In 2017, he allegedly attended a conference in China, where Russian authorities believe he handed over classified information to Beijing.

Shiplyuk hasn’t denied that he gave information to foreigners. However, Reuters reported he said the documents in question weren’t classified. The information was available online and to the public.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly bragged that his country is going to lead the world in hypersonic missiles. The weapons are especially dangerous because they travel at 10 times the speed of sound at low-altitude levels in space and can maneuver around obstacles, unlike traditional missiles that have a fixed path. The weapons are so advanced, that missile defense systems have difficulty stopping them.

At least 39 people were convicted of treason in Russia in 2023. That’s an increase from the 16 who were convicted in 2022. It’s not clear how many of those convictions were related to the hypersonic program.

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