Russian missile hub raided amid spy claims

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has raided a space research centre after a suspected leak of hypersonic missile secrets to western spies.

The state space agency Roskosmos said its security staff were cooperating with the FSB’s criminal case.

The Russian Kommersant daily said about 10 employees at a Roskosmos base called TsNIIMash were under suspicion and a director’s office was reportedly searched. 

This week Russia also released a video of two new hypersonic missile systems, Kinzhal and Avangard, which can deliver nuclear warheads.

Those suspected could be charged with high treason, Kommersant said. 

“It was established that the leak came from TsNIIMash employees,” an FSB investigation was quoted saying by the paper.

“A lot of heads will roll, and for sure this case won’t end just with a few dismissals,” said the source. 

TsNIIMash is a subsidiary of Roskosmos in the city of Korolyov (pictured) near Moscow. 

On the spy trail, the FSB also searched offices at the United Rocket and Space Corporation (ORKK) in Moscow.

Kommersant said a state corporation called Tactical Missile Arms managed Russian hypersonic projects, but TsNIIMash worked closely with it.

The industrial hub is the centre of rocket manufacturing for military missiles and the country’s space programme.

The Russian defence ministry has issued a professional video of what it calls a new generation of nuclear-capable missiles launched by bombers, silos and mobile-launch vehicles.

The first video of a live launch of the Avangard hypersonic missile, which Russia said had “a glider manoeuvring warhead”, was also aired along with footage of the heavy Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile.

Putin said the Kinzhal aircraft-launched hypersonic missile and the Avangard missile system, which had a hypersonic glide vehicle that could strike “like a meteorite, like a fireball”.

The ministry said it was preparing to conduct flight tests of a new nuclear-powered cruise missile, the Burevestnik or Storm Petrel.

President Vladimir Putin in March unveiled the Kinzhal missile, which can reach Mach 10, about 12,000kmh, with a range of 2,000km.

The Kinzhal, already in service, could be launched from MiG-31 or Tu-22M3 jets. The Interfax news agency said Kinzhal-armed MiGs patrol over the Caspian Sea.

The new weapons have been greeted with scepticism in Washington where there were doubts about whether Russia had added any new capabilities to its nuclear hardware beyond those already known to its military and the intelligence agencies.

But elements of the US also appear to be becoming increasingly concerned that its military is failing to keep up with Russian and Chinese hypersonic developments. Admiral Harry Harris, who ran the Pacific Command until May, admitted in February that the US was “falling behind”.

 

 

 

Korolyov. Russian hardware is looking increasingly formidable. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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