Experts say it is crucial to determine if the data released on Scorpene submarines match with the versions of the submarines that the Navy is set to induct. If they match, it would significantly reduce the submarines’ surprise element.
The basic DNA of a submarine should help it stay hidden, and giving out frequencies and other specifics increases the chances of the vessel being detected, explained Commodore Uday Bhaskar (Retd.), Director of Society of Policy Studies. This is because each submarine operates and communicates at specific frequencies and ranges and this information is vital to its stealthy movement. “In the event that the entire specifications released corresponds to that of the Indian Scorpene variant, then the capability of the submarine is compromised,” he said.
Stealth capabilities This is exactly is what the 22,400 pages of leaked data contain, according to The Australian which has accessed it. They detail the secret stealth capabilities of Scorpenes being built for India which includes at what frequencies they gather intelligence, the noise levels they make at various speeds and their diving depths, range and endurance.
Former Submariner Rear Adm Raja Menon called the data leak a serious issue “in itself”. However, he said based on the documents released it was not clear what sensitive information had been released. “There are many details of the submarine that will come out only after the trials. I don’t think that information has been leaked yet,” he added.
The data tell the crew where on the boat they can speak safely to avoid detection. “It also discloses magnetic, electromagnetic and infra-red data as well as the specifications of the submarine’s torpedo launch system and the combat system,” the report stated.
It details the speed and conditions needed for using the periscope, the noise specifications of the propeller and the radiated noise levels that occur when the submarine surfaces.
Asked what the leak means, a serving submariner observed that everyone knows broadly what another country has but this sort of document is a confirmation.
“Any data from any manufacturer is serious. This is not the kind of data I would like to part with,” he said, adding that if confirmed, the manufacturer DCNS should be made accountable.
According to The Australian , the data includes 4,457 pages on underwater sensors, 4,209 pages on above-water sensors, 4,301 pages on its combat management system, 493 pages on its torpedo launch system and specifications, 6,841 pages on the communications system and 2,138 on its navigation systems.
Former Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat said the leak of documents was a serious issue per se , but the Defence Ministry should be more worried if information pertaining to operational deployment plans, etc, of the submarines had leaked.
“This bit about frequencies, propeller noise of the submarine, fire control mechanisms etc is only to confuse people. What is important is the strategic information about where the submarines will be deployed, and how it will be deployed. If operations plans about the exact location and patrol area are leaked, then the enemy can home all its aircraft, naval ships and submarines to destroy your submarine. So if that’s leaked, then it is very serious,” said Admiral Bhagwat.
Mazgaon Dock Ltd. officials were not available for comment.
(With inputs from Mumbai Bureau and agencies)