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India seeks navy’s report on Scorpene submarine data leak

scorpene submarine

Highly sensitive data detailing almost every aspect of the combat capability of India’s Scorpene-class submarine+ , “the most lethal conventional submarine ever contemplated”, has been leaked, the newspaper The Australian reported on Wednesday.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has sought a report from the navy on the alleged leak of sensitive data on India’s Scorpene submarines, as part of the larger expose pertaining to some 22,000 documents of its French designer, DCNS.

“The first step is to identify if it relates to us,” Parrikar told reporters, referring to the documents that purportedly reveal details on the sub’s underwater and above water sensors, as also combat management, torpedo launch, navigation and communications systems.

“The Navy Chief (Admiral Sunil Lanba) has been asked to analyse what exactly has been leaked,” the minister said, adding his first assessment was that it was an act of hacking and not a 100-per cent leak. “We do have our final integration and all that,” he said.

“What I can understand — because it came to my knowledge around 12 am — is there is a hacking. So we will find out all these aspects,” he said. “I’ve told the navy chief to find out all the details. Mayby, in a couple of days I’ll be able share with you.”

The Australian media reports, quoting DCNS, said that the leak of such technical data could not happen with its proposed submarine for Australia. The French company also alluded that the leak may have occurred at India’s end, rather than from France.

“Uncontrolled technical data is not possible in the Australian Arrangements,” the company said as per a report in The Australian. “Multiple and independent controls exist within DCNS to prevent unauthorised access to data and all data movements are encrypted and recorded,” it said.

“In the case of India, where a DCNS design is built by a local company, DCNS is the provider and not the controller of technical data.”

The first of the Scorpene class submarines being built in India, INS Kalvari, went for sea trials in May, 2016 and is expected to be inducted in the Indian Navy soon. Variants of Scorpene submarines are also used by Malaysia and Chile, with Brazil to join the club soon.

Major strategic problem

The breadth of detail in the documents creates a major strategic problem for India, Malaysia and Chile, all of which operate the same submarine, an Australian political source with decades of experience in the global arms industry told Reuters.

Excerpts published in redacted form on the newspaper’s website contained highly sensitive details of the submarine including technical manuals and models of the boat’s antennae.

“If it’s 22,400 pages, it’s a major stuff-up,” the source said. “It’s a huge deal.

“It allows them to understand everything about the submarines. What speeds it can do; how noisy it is; what speeds the mast can be raised at … all of that is just devastating.”

The defence ministry said it was probing the impact of the leak on the submarine programme which it said had occurred from abroad. It gave no detail.

“The available information is being examined at integrated headquarters, ministry of defence (Navy) and an analysis is being carried out by the concerned specialists,” it said in a statement.

“It appears that the source of leak is from overseas and not in India.”

(With Agency Inputs)

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