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Putin’s top hypersonic nuke missile expert arrested for high treason after ‘passing secrets to the West’

ONE of Vladimir Putin’s leading experts on top secret hypersonic missiles has been detained on suspicion of high treason. 

Associate Professor Anatoly Gubanov, 63, is feared to have passed highly classified aviation design data to the West.

The eminent physicist  was held by Russia’s FSB counterintelligence service in Moscow and faces between 12 and 20 years in prison if convicted. 

"According to the investigation, Gubanov  handed over secret aviation development data abroad," said a law enforcement source.

It is known that the leading scientist had worked with Western experts on an international  project called Hexafly-Int aiming to develop a high speed passenger aircraft running on hydrogen fuel.

This venture included specialists from Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Australia. 

But Kommersant newspaper reported sources close to father-of-five Gubanov as saying his primary interest was in “the design of promising missiles, which are not yet in [military] service”.

He had made several scientific developments in this field which were “classified”, and the report indicated the accusation against him is linked to this work.

Gubanov is known to be an expert on supersonic solid rocket engines.

He had signed undertakings not to divulge details of the breakthrough technology to foreign powers but the FSB believe he “violated” these obligations, said Kommersant. 

Gubanov is from a dynasty of scientists which included his father-in-law Professor  Leonid Shkadov, a leading Soviet aviation designer. 

He works at Zhukovsky Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) but is also associated with several universities including Moscow Physics and Technology Institute (MIPT).

Two of his daughters and one son - all physicists - also work at TsAGI.

Interfax says the professor is suspected of passing “information consisting of state secrets abroad” or committing “other acts aimed against the security of Russia in the interests of a foreign state, organisation or representatives”.

A closed-door court inside Lefortovo jail ordered Gubanov to be held in detention until February.

The was speculation but no confirmation the case may involve Putin’s prized new Kinzhal - or Dagger - hypersonic nuclear-capable missile which operates at ten times the speed of sound.

Gubanov’s legal representative refused to comment further. 

He is the latest of a number of Russian scientists and officials to be detained in what critics have called a round of “spy mania”.

Colleagues told Interfax they were “surprised” by the arrest of a man “respected by his students”.

Last month a high treason  charge was laid against Dmitry Fedotkin, 39, Aeroflot’s senior official in Britain.

He was “suspected of passing information of a secret nature to the UK intelligence service” although sources said he had no access to classified material. 

Russian authorities have long suspected that agents have been leaking top secret information about its hypersonic missiles.

In 2018, the Federal Security Service (FSB) raided a research facility controlled by its Roskosmos space agency and interrogated staff.

At least 10 workers including a director from the TsNIIMash facility, were subsequently investigated for treason.

A source told the Kommersant newspaper: "It was established that the leak came from TsNIIMash employees.

"A lot of heads will roll, and for sure this case will not end with just a few dismissals."

Since then, Russia have recently successfully tested the hypersonic missile, which is said to be able to wipe out US cities if World War 3 broke out.

The missile, which travels at 6,000mph is said to be faster than the speed of sound, making it too quick for US and UK anti-missile systems.

The cruise missile was launched from the White Sea and “successfully” hit a dummy target in the Barents Sea 280 miles away, claimed the Kremlin.

It took just just over four minutes to get there.

Putin is said to be impressed by it and has claimed the Mach 8 Zircon - or Tsirkon - is “truly unparalleled … in the world” in what was seen as a dig aimed at the US.

A previous test launch of the missile was staged in early October and seen as a 68th birthday present for Putin.

Russia 'successfully' tests 6,000 mph hypersonic Zircon missile which could NUKE US cities if war breaks out

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