According to a report from the Guardian, Russia has detained the head of the hypersonic technology program on suspicion of treason.
Alexander Kuranov, 73, director-general of the St. Petersburg-based Institute for the Study of Hypersonic Systems, was arrested in Moscow yesterday.
A Russian court has ordered that he be detained for two months in pre-trial detention.
According to the institute’s website, Kuranov, an expert in hypersonic technology, is leading the work on the concept for a new hypersonic aircraft called Ajax.
Hypersonic technology allows objects to move much faster than the speed of sound.
In 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin had announced a new set of hypersonic weapons during a speech to senior officials saying the weapons could evade missile defense systems and hit targets in the United States.
Russian state media has also reported the arrest, citing anonymous sources.
“According to preliminary information, Kuranov, who has been working in the field of hypersonic technologies for years, has shared classified information for research with a foreign national,” reads a report from Interfax citing a source familiar with the investigation.
According to publicly available reports, China and the United States are interested in the project.
Moscow has reportedly not made much progress in developing the US LRHW hypersonic missile. Russian military expert Alexei Leonkov has expressed a similar opinion in an interview with Russian newspaper Vzglyad.
Titanium alloys are essential for protecting the electronics in hypersonic warheads and Leonkov has question US capabilities for their production.
“But the question is, how will the electronics in the warhead behave when heated to certain temperatures?” Do they have the technology to produce titanium alloys that can withstand high temperatures and overloads? So far, nothing has been heard about it,” said Leonkov.
Incidentally, in the interview Leonkov did not mention the participation of entrepreneur Ellon Musk. Earlier this year, the Pentagon had awarded a $8.5 million contract to Musk’s company to find suitable alloys and materials or develop new technologies to deal with high temperatures during the launch and flight of the hypersonic rockets.
Referring to a GAO report on the estimated cost for the US hypersonic missile program, he quoted the GAO report which reads “the United States does not have breakthrough technology.”
Thus, currently the United States has virtually no such technology, said Leonkov.