Headhunters. How the CIA is after our military secrets

Weekly “Argumenty i Fakty” No. 21. Got it from Azovstal 05/25/2022

Last week, the US Air Force reported on the testing of hypersonic weapons. Experts say that they are 10-15 years behind Russia in this area, and therefore their intelligence is hunting for our developments.

«Dagger» don't catch up

A B-52 bomber launched a hypersonic missile off the coast of Southern California that successfully reached 5 times the speed of sound, the US Air Force said. 6.1 thousand km/h.

For the first time, the fact that the Americans created a hypersonic missile was loudly announced back in May 2020 by the then President Donald Trump. He even called it “super duper” a rocket that flies at a speed of Mach 17 (more than 20 thousand km/h). But the world did not have time to envy: the rocket reached such a speed only for a couple of seconds and exploded. Whereas, according to the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Yuri Borisov, who oversees the defense industry, our hypersonic missile showed a steady speed of Mach 27 (33 thousand km/h) during tests.

In March, Russia first used the Kinzhal hypersonic system. in Ukraine – a large underground warehouse of missiles and aviation ammunition was destroyed in the Ivano-Frankivsk region. The Americans began to fuss and also began to prepare the launch. But while they are far behind in this race. No wonder they took Great Britain and Austria as allies in the development of hypersound. Countries have declared that they will create not only weapons, but also protection against them. 

“The most important question – who will have interceptors of hypersonic weapons. Today they do not exist, but in Russia there are experimental options, – says expert of the Center for Military-Political Journalism Vladimir Orlov. He clarified that the S-500 air defense system (it was recently sent to the troops) is potentially capable of intercepting hypersonic missiles flying at high altitudes. With flying at low altitudes, like the “Dagger”, until ­handled.

Hunting for scientists

The main problems that must be solved in the development of hypersonic weapons: the engine, fuel, control system and the fight against ultra-high temperatures, due to which external sensors burn. Our scientists and engineers coped with this task. The overseas ones are still smart. 

“The rocket needs to be controlled. You can launch a hypersonic rocket, but it will be like a log – just fly somewhere and fall somewhere. And we control a rocket like you control a bicycle, – explained military expert, retired colonel Viktor Baranets. – In terms of hypersonics, the United States openly admits that they are 10-15 years behind Russia. That's why Americans are furious. And American intelligence has been on the ears for the past two years. Enormous funds are thrown into finding out hypersonic secrets. 

Baranets claims that the hunt for our scientists is in full swing. Just as our intelligence hunted the US atomic secrets in the middle of the last century, so they are now trying to steal the secret of hypersonic missiles from us. In early 2021, an expert talked about one such attempt by the CIA. According to him, American agents found a conditional “Ivan Ivanovich”, who had access to classified information, and decided to recruit him: “a certain Joe” met a Russian in a restaurant; – he was interested in “the topic of a ramjet engine or the secret of the material with which the rocket is covered.” Both were then detained by counterintelligence of the Russian Federation. “American intelligence officers are almost in the garbage containers near our design bureaus, trying to find out at least some secrets. And, of course, they are trying to bribe our scientists who are engaged in this area. Here we must congratulate them: they managed to seduce three such traitors. Two of them are now on the bunk, and one lay down for a while, fell ill and died, & ndash; says Baranets.

Last year, the general director and chief designer of the Scientific Research Enterprise of Hypersonic Systems OJSC was arrested. ­(NIPGS) Alexander Kuranov. Of course, the case is classified. It is only known that the scientist – specialist in the field of physics and chemistry of plasma – previously focused on hypersonic technologies, including the development of the Ajax hypersonic multipurpose aircraft. The Ajax concept in the late ­1980s, suggested by Vladimir Freishtadtworking in the same NIPGS. The idea is not to protect the device, flying at great speed, from prohibitively high temperatures, but on the contrary – let them in to increase energy. This solved the problem.

The Americans copied the design of the Yak-141 VTOL rotary engine onto their F-35 aircraft. Photo: Collage AiF

In recent years, several criminal cases have been initiated in Russia at once against scientists who worked with hypersound. In 2018, Viktor Kudryavtsev, an employee of TsNIIMash, was arrested on charges of state treason. In 2019 – another employee of TsNIIMash, Deputy Head of the Department of Spacecraft Roman Kovalev. In 2021, professors of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) Valery Golubkin were arrested. He was engaged in hypersonic flow around aircraft. Shortly before this, “sat down” Another employee of TsAGI, Anatoly Gubanov.

The Americans are actively looking for approaches to the secrets and scientists not only of the Russian Federation, but also of China. Although, according to military expert Aleksey Leonkov, the Chinese developments in hypersound are at the level of our 1980 & ndash; 1990s. It is not easy to get such information, so they try to “go into the topic” under the guise of an exchange of experience on the part of civilian hypersound at various international conferences. “This was also the case in Soviet times, when professional intelligence officers under the guise of scientists or idly wandering amateurs visited military-technical exhibitions and asked questions. The main task – identify the carrier of important information, get it, and if it doesn’t work, then eliminate it, – says the expert.

What did you steal?

By the way, contrary to stereotypes about the “advanced West and backward Russia”, hypersound – far from the first of our technology, which is hunted by foreign intelligence agencies. For example, not so long ago it turned out that Britain and the United States stole a hydroacoustic system from the USSR. Operation Barmaid in Secrets of the Conqueror: The Untold Story of Britain's Most Famous Submarine describedStuart Prebble. When it became known in the 1970s that the Soviet Union had a more advanced sonar system in service (it was a separate station that was towed by a reconnaissance ship), Western intelligence began hunting for it. In August 1982, a special operation was carried out in the Barents Sea to steal this system. To do this, a cutting device was attached to the bow of the Conqueror submarine. The submarine sailed up to the Soviet ship at night, cut the cable and towed the sonar station to the base, and from there it was taken by plane to a research center in the USA.

In the early 1990s, when the creation of all sorts of joint ventures on the principle of “our brains” was actively flourishing; their money”, the naive designers of the Yakovlev Design Bureau turned to the “friendly” Americans with a request to financially support the promising development of a military carrier-based vertical takeoff aircraft Yak-141. The Americans did not lose their heads and signed a contract under which they “privatized” most of the technical developments of Soviet engineers. Our scientists managed to complete what they started, but in parallel, a new F-35 military aircraft appeared in the United States, which suspiciously resembled our Yak-141. The appearance of the F-117 stealth aircraft is not even due to intelligence, but to our negligence. The development of the Soviet engineer Pyotr Ufimtsevwas considered unpromising at the time and was not classified. After its publication in a scientific journal, there was a “breakthrough”; over the ocean.

In 1989, the Americans were impressed by the ­K-36DM catapult, which is equipped with military aircraft MiG-29, Su-27, Su-30, Su-24, Su-34, ­Tu-160 . They saw it in action at the Le Bourget air show. Then our MiG-29 fighter crashed, but the pilot survived and escaped with bruises, although he ejected at a low altitude – 80 m. There was nothing like that in the USA then. But in the mid-1990s, they began to produce a modification of the ACES-2 catapult, in which the inventions used in our development were applied. And these are not all examples…

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