An alarmed India has sought a report from France on the leak of thousands of pages of documents related to the Indian Scorpene submarine project that has exposed several secrets of a vessel set to be inducted by the Navy in October.
A report in ‘The Australian’ has revealed that over 22,400 pages of data — which lists operational capability of the submarine, combat system details and underwater profile — has made its way to several companies after a leak at DCNS, the French manufacturer of the submarine.
While India is studying the impact of the leak, the Navy is left with only bad options. The project is in an advanced stage with one submarine already under tests and the Navy faces an acute shortage of underwater assets. Scrapping the deal does not seem viable.
As most major components of the submarines have already been made as per design, any major modification to change its characteristics may not be possible.
India could throw up the non-disclosure clause with DCNS that forbids the company from sharing information related to the contract but that would not change the fact that the sensitive data leaked has the potential to compromise the safety and security of the submarine’s crew.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar described the leak as a case of ‘hacking’ and has asked the Navy to prepare a detailed report on the leak as well as an assessment of how it would impact ongoing project for induction of six Scorpene submarines. “I have asked the Navy chief to study the issue and what has been leaked, what is there about us and to what extent. It came to my knowledge at midnight. What I understand is there has been a hacking. We will find out all this,” the minister said.
India is also asking DCNS to disclose the extent of the leak that reportedly took place in France.
‘The Australian’ reported that the leak was carried out by a French navy personnel on contract with DCNS and the data found its way to a southeast Asian nation before reaching Australia in unprotected format.
Thousands of pages of material marked restricted has been leaked.
They disclose how fast the submarine travels underwater, how much noise it makes, its endurance and response time to threats. ‘The Australian’ said that documents in its possession included “magnetic, electromagnetic and infra-red data as well as specifications of the submarine’s torpedo launch system and combat system”.
While the paper reported that the data was leaked in 2011, some documents shared reveal a date stamp as late as May 2013. The data include 4,457 pages on underwater sensors, 4,209 pages on above-water sensors, 4,301 pages on combat management system, 493 pages on torpedo launch system, 6,841 pages on communications system and 2,138 on navigation systems.
The Navy, caught in an alleged espionage scandal on Scorpene submarine in 2006, was quick to point out that the “source of leak was overseas and not India.” A statement said that investigations were on. “The available information is being examined at the Integrated Headquarters, Ministry of Defence (Navy) and an analysis is being carried out by the concerned specialists,” a Navy spokesperson said.
Sources in the Navy also sought to downplay the impact of the leak on the capabilities of the submarine.
While conceding that the leak was serious, an official said that the details leaked were old and that data related to the signature a submarine makes is known once it starts operation. The official said that the submarines ability to remain stealthy will depend on the tactics being used by the crew and other geographical factors.
What has leaked?
Details of how much noise the submarine makes underwater. The leaked data shows various profi les of operations, from steady underwater to moving at different speeds. The data is on how much noise it makes during different missions. This data would help enemy units identify and target the submarine .
One way to detect a submarine underwater is to listen for the sound its propellers make. Leaked data states till which speed the Scorpene can travel and different depths without making this cavitation signature. Would help enemy map out endurance, underwater capability of the submarine
Full details of how the sonar of the Scorpene works, the frequencies it uses, its range and more. TThe enemy now knows the exact capabilities of the submarine to detect threats from underwater. Will make it easier to plan a counter strategy for the fl eet
Mobility Performance, Endurance & Maneuverability
All data related to how the vessel performs underwater. How quickly can it turn or evade an enemy torpedo, the speed with which it can scoot after shooting off a weapon
Combat System Information
Details of how quickly and how often can the submarine shoot off torpedoes and missiles. The speed with which it can react to a situation. Gives the enemy crucial data to plan combat missions against the Scorpene
While data on the Scorpene submarine has been leaked, French manufacturer DCNS has several more projects in India that may be impacted. Here’s a look.
Scorpene Follow On: Plan was to construct three more submarines with an advanced air independent propulsion that would give them longer endurance under water
Torpedo: DCNS was also eyeing a contract for new-generation torpedoes for the Scorpene and was offering its under-development F 21
Landing Platform Dock: The French company is in contention for a potential `20,000 crore contract for amphibious ships in partnership with Reliance Defence.
P 75I: A mega contract to procure and Make in India a new fleet of conventional submarines had DCNS as a frontrunner along with German HDW