Fact Check: Debunking Trump's Claims That Russia Stole Designs of US 'Super-Duper' Rocket
17:40 24.10.2023 (Updated: 18:38 24.10.2023)
Recently, ex-President of the United States Donald Trump claimed that during the Barack Obama's leadership in the US, some secret drawings of an alleged cutting edge American missiles were stolen by Russia. Is there any truth to these allegations? Sputnik explores.
Speaking at a rally of his supporters in New Hampshire, the US, Donald Trump alleged that "Russia stole a super-duper rocket, those fly superfast."
"They stole during the Barack Obama administration. They stole classified drawings and built it," the former US president claimed.
From 2009 to 2017, Obama served as the commander-in-chief of the United States.
'Russia Has Its Own Excellent Missile'
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quick to respond by telling reporters that Russia
"has its own missile, an excellent one."
"It’s hard for me to say whether it fits in well with Mr. Trump's term ‘super-duper,’ but it is a good missile that has no rivals in the world for now. And there is not just one [such missile]," Peskov pointed out.
The Kremlin press secretary did not specify what kind of missile he was referring to, but it’s worth noting in this regard that the Russian army is already equipped
with hypersonic weapons, including the Kinzhal (Dagger) missiles, the Avangard gliders and the Zircon cruise missiles.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu earlier said that the Kinzhal missiles has been used during Moscow’s special military operation in Ukraine
. According to him, the Kinzhals struck "particularly important targets."
Additionally, the Russian armed forces possess the S-500 missile defense system, which reportedly is capable of intercepting hypersonic missiles.
US Lagging in Hypersonic Weapons Development
The US is now far behind Russia as far as developing hypersonic missiles go, and several attempts by Washington to steal data on relevant Russian technologies have already been thwarted, Moscow-based military expert Alexey Leonkov told Sputnik.
"Trump says that the drawings were stolen. But wait, someone made those drawings, so where is this person or group of comrades?" the expert said, in an apparent nod to American designers.
He also stressed that as far as the drawings are concerned, they are "not made in a single copy."
"Anyway, where are these American hypersonic projects? This is all about technologies rather than the drawings. For us, all this happened consistently, and we were already on the verge of a breakthrough [into hypersonic development] before the collapse of the Soviet Union [in 1991]," Leonkov underscored.
The expert recalled that Russian President Vladimir Putin
"spoke about these hypersonic projects in 2018, namely about the Avangard, the Zircon and the Kinzhal."
"Now we are already working on the second generation, so there was no point in stealing certain US drawings. On the contrary, it were Americans who tried to steal our hypersonic research and development. Russian special services have recently tackled several [US] espionage attempts in this field," Leonkov said.
He emphasized that the Americans
, who are now trying to catch up with Russia, have attracted specialists from other countries, who deal more with theory, not practice. In this vein, the expert applauded "almost non-stop" hypersonic research and development work in Russia, where heads of several major corporations cooperated with developers of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
"We improved technologies as we carried out complex physical and mathematical modeling, resolving the issue of reliable communications and control at hypersonic speeds," he added.
Leonkov was echoed by another Russian military expert, Alexander Mikhailov, who told Sputnik that "if Russia had stolen the drawings of a 'super-duper' US missile during Obama’s presidency, then a question arises: what prevented Americans from making hypersonic weapons with the help of the same drawings long time ago?"
Recalling that hypersonic weapons have yet to be put in service at the US army, Mikhailov singled out billions of dollars that are annually wasted for the purpose, not least by the Pentagon.
He also recalled that "only Russia and China possess hypersonic weapons", while the US continues to pay lip-service to the issue.
"When it comes to development of hypersonic weapons, Russia outdid America by at least a decade. That’s why it’s safe to assume that it was the US which could steal our drawings. Judging by the fact, however, that America is yet to make progress in creating hypersonic weaponry, our drawing are in place," Mikhailov concluded.
As for Trump, in 2020 he also mentioned a "super-duper US rocket" that he claimed would be capable of quickly hitting targets at a distance of 1,600 kilometers. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova reacted at the time by pointing out that the US claims to have missiles that "no one can even think about."
"Speed is a wonderful thing, but precision also matters. We remember what happened to the wonderful, new and smart [US] missiles in 2018," the Russian diplomat stressed.
She apparently referred to the US airstrikes
on Syria in April 2018, when 71 out of 101 American missiles
were downed by Syrian air defense forces.