India has sought a report from French shipbuilder DCNS in wake of the massive leak of documents of Indian Navy's Scorpene submarine project. As per latest reports, the DCNS has already launched a probe into what it has termed as a “serious matter”.
“This serious matter (documents leak) is being thoroughly investigated by French national authorities for defence security,” DCNS was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
More than 22,000 pages of top secret data on the capabilities of six highly advanced submarines being built for the Indian Navy in Mumbai in collaboration with DCNS have raised alarm bells in the security establishment.
The combat capability of the scorpene submarines being built at Mazagon dock at a cost of USD 3.5 billion by French shipbuilder DCNS, went public when an Australian newspaper, "The Australian", put the details on the website.
Reacting with alacrity to the development, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who learnt about the leak at midnight, ordered Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lamba to go into the 'entire issue".
"What I understand is there is a hacking. So we will find out all this," Parrikar told reporters in Delhi.
DCNS was earlier quoted as having said it was aware of the report in the Australian daily and that "national security authorities" had launched an inquiry into the matter, without giving details.
"This inquiry will determine the precise nature of the documents which have been leaked, the potential damage to our customers as well as those responsible."
The daily said the data was thought to have been removed from France in 2011 by a former French naval officer who at the time was a subcontractor for DCNS.
The data is believed to have passed through firms in Southeast Asia before eventually being mailed to a company in Australia, the newspaper said.
Modi govt underplaying breach: Congress
Meanwhile, the Congress party has demanded a probe into the leak by a sitting Supreme Court judge. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for their 'myopic' approach towards the matter and underplaying the 'stunning breach of security'.
"It's perhaps the biggest defence disaster of recent times. This scandalous leak has put a question mark on India's maritime security and has jeopardised the initiative to build six Scorpene submarines of the French companies PSU, DCNS at a cost of USD 3.5 billion, which are, currently being built by the mazagaon dock ship builder limited at Mumbai," he said.
Congress leader A K Antony, a former Defence Minister, said the leak is a matter of "very very serious concern" to the country.
"It affects the security of the country. Government must immediately order a high level enquiry, find out the truth after that we can consider future course of action. Don't waste time immediately find out the truth," he said.
Navy sources have said that the leak of data "was a matter of serious concern" but added that the document was dated and the Indian submarine had undergone "many changes" from the initial design the details of which have been leaked.
In a statement, the Navy said, "A case of suspected leak of documents related to Scorpene submarines has been reported by a foreign media house.
"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 appears that the source of leak is from overseas and not in India."
The details leaked included what frequencies the submarines 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, the Australian said.
It said that 'Marked "Restricted Scorpene India", the DCNS documents¬ detail the most sensitive combat capabilities of India’s submarine fleet and would provide an intelligence bonanza if obtained by India’s strategic rivals, such as Pakistan or China.'
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, the newspaper 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.
"I have asked the Navy chief to study the entire issue about what has been leaked, what is there about us and to what extent. It came to my knowledge at about 12 midnight. What I understand is there is a hacking. So we will find out all this," Parrikar said.
The Defence Minister said he does not suspect the leak to be 100 per cent since a lot of final integration lies with India.
He said a clear picture will emerge in a couple of days.
Parrikar also met the naval top brass to discuss the leak episode.