• News
  • Columns
  • Interviews
  • BW Communities
  • BW TV
  • Subscribe to Print
BW Businessworld

India Says Leak Of Scorpene Submarine Papers Doesn't Compromise Security

DCNS, which is 35 per cent owned by Thales, said it was working to determine if any harm had been caused to clients and whether commercial espionage was to blame

Photo Credit :


India said on Thursday that it sees no immediate security risk from the leak to an Australian newspaper of secret documents detailing the capability of a French-designed submarine being built for its navy.

The Defence Ministry said it had taken up the matter with the French government after The Australian newspaper splashed a story on Wednesday saying it had obtained more than 22,000 pages of details about the Scorpene submarine.

The newspaper published only a fraction of those documents, and these had been redacted, meaning that sensitive details relating to the Scorpene's design and stealth capabilities did not enter the public domain.

"The documents that have been posted ... have been examined and do not pose any security compromise as the vital parameters have been blacked out," the defence ministry said in a statement.

The submarines, designed by French naval contractor DCNS, are being built at a state-run shipyard in Mumbai. The first is expected to enter service by the end of the year as India seeks to rebuild its dwindling fleet and assert its hegemony over the strategic waters of the Indian Ocean.

The leak has raised doubts about the security of a separate DCNS submarine project in Australia where it is locked in exclusive negotiations after seeing off rivals for $38 billion contract to build the Barracuda next generation of submarines.

DCNS, which is 35 per cent owned by Thales, said it was working to determine if any harm had been caused to clients and whether commercial espionage was to blame.

India "has requested the French government to investigate this incident with urgency and share their findings", the Defence Ministry said, adding it was conducting an internal audit and taking up the matter with foreign governments to find out more about the leak.

"The government of India, as a matter of abundant precaution, is also examining the impact if the information contained in the documents claimed to be available with the Australian sources is compromised. The detailed assessment of potential impact is being undertaken by a high level committee constituted by the Ministry of Defence and the Indian Navy is taking all necessary steps to mitigate any probable security compromise," the Indian Navy said in a statement.

Defence experts raised concerns over the leak, irrespective of the leak compromising Indian security or not.

Defence analyst Commodore Uday Bhaskar (Retd), Director of Society of Policy Studies, had said that if the veracity of the documents is proved then it definitely compromises the Indian platform.

"This is so because the leakage of so much technical details compromises the submarines capability to stay undetected," he said.

Rear Admiral Raja Menon (Retd), a submariner who once headed naval operations, had said the breach of security of data should not have happened.

"The loss of data is a serious issue," he had said.

Defence Meetings
Since the news broke out, there has been a series of meeting at the Defence Ministry on the issue. The Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba and other top officials are briefing Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar regularly.

The Defence Ministry is of the view that if the need be, an Indian team can also be sent abroad to ascertain facts of the leak.

A formal report is expected to be put before Parrikar by mid next month, sources said.

Of the few documents that was put out on the web by the Australian newspaper, some even had Indian Navy insignia on it.

The papers included 'Operating Instructions Manual' of Combat Management System.

It was not immediately clear who was in possession of these document - DCNS, Indian Navy or the MDL.

Security experts said that nobody would know until French and Indian governments along with the companies check on what data they had shared with each other.

After checking all nodes, then only will they be able to find the leak point. Indian agencies will also have to do the same within the system, they said.

The leaked data details the secret stealth capabilities of six new Indian submarines, including what frequencies they gather intelligence at, what levels of noise they make at various speeds and their diving depths, range and endurance all sensitive information that is highly classified, according to 'The Australian' newspaper.

The data tells the submarine crew where on the boat they can speak safely to avoid detection by the enemy. 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, it said.

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.

The data, accessed by the paper, includes 4,457 pages on the submarine's underwater sensors, 4,209 pages on its 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 sub's communications system and 2138 on its navigation systems.


Tags assigned to this article:
defence submarines indian navy DCNS france