India on Wednesday began multiple investigations to determine the extent of damage caused by the reported leak of huge quantity of secret data detailing the combat and stealth capabilities of the Indian Navy’s soon-to-be-inducted Scorpene submarines.
The Navy, in its early response, said the leak was from outside India while downplaying the operational impact of the leak.
The source of the leak, if confirmed, can have a serious bearing on the significantly large defence ties between India and France with French companies in the race for deals worth billions of dollars including the Rafale fighter deal.
“I have asked the Navy Chief to investigate the matter and find what has been leaked and how much of it is about us,” Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Wednesday in response to questions on the issue.
“What I understand is that there is hacking,” Mr. Parrikar said, adding that the data cannot be complete as the final assembly is done by India.
The incident emerged in a news report on Tuesday in The Australian , which also released a few sample documents.
Impact minimal: Defence official
Defence officials on Wednesday underplayed the impact of the data leak on Scorpenes, stating that the information released related to technical specifications given by the manufacturer while the operational specifications would be determined by the Navy once the submarine was inducted and put into water. “The leak happening is wrong but the impact is minimal,” one defence official said.
The news report in The Australian said “the stunning leak, which runs to 22,400 pages… details the entire secret combat capability of the six Scorpene-class submarines that French shipbuilder DCNS has designed for the Indian Navy.” India had entered into an agreement with the French in 2005 and Mumbai-based Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL) is building them locally with technology transfer. The Navy in a statement said that available information is being examined at Navy Headquarters and an analysis is being carried out by the specialists concerned. “It appears that the source of leak is from overseas and not in India.”
Defence sources said the specifications given in the documents that were released are different from that of the Scorpene procured by India. French shipbuilder DCNS in a statement termed the leakage a serious matter and said that it is being thoroughly investigated by proper French national authorities. According to The Australian, the DCNS documents, marked
“Restricted Scorpene India”, detail the most sensitive combat capabilities of the submarine and would provide “an intelligence bonanza if obtained by India’s strategic rivals, such as Pakistan or China.” The data includes 4457 pages onthe submarine’s underwater sensors, 4209 pages on its above-water sensors, 4301 pages on its combat management system, 493 pages on its torpedo launch system and specifications, 6841 pages on the communications system and 2138 on its navigation systems.