The government on Wednesday ordered a probe into the reported leak of a massive cache of secret documents detailing the combat capabilities of Scorpene submarines designed for the Indian Navy by French shipbuilder DCNS, with defence minister Manohar Parrikar describing it as a case of “hacking”.
The leak, running to 22,400 pages, could prove an intelligence bonanza for India’s rivals such as Pakistan or China, The Australian newspaper reported on Tuesday. The documents detail key capabilities of the submarines, including the frequencies at which the vessels gather intelligence, their diving depths, range and endurance and the specifications of the torpedo launch and combat systems.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar, who said he learnt of the leak at midnight, described it as a “case of hacking”. He sought a report from the Indian Navy chief on the “extent of the leak”.
“The first step is to identify if it’s related to us, and anyway it’s not all 100% leak,” Parrikar said.
In its first reaction, the Indian Navy said: “It appears that the source of the leak is from overseas and not in India.”
A naval spokesperson said following the “suspected leak of documents related to Scorpene submarines”, the “available information is being examined” at the defence ministry’s integrated headquarters. The spokesperson added that “an analysis is being carried out by the concerned specialists”.
French authorities will also investigate the matter, reports Reuters.
“As a serious matter pertaining to the Indian Scorpene programme, French national authorities for defence security will formally investigate and determine the exact nature of the leaked documents,” a DCNS spokeswoman said in a statement.
“The matters in connection to India have no bearing on the Australian submarine programme which operates under the Australian government’s arrangements for the protection of sensitive data.
A spokesman for the French embassy in Canberra declined to comment when reached by Reuters.
India has ordered six Scorpene-class submarines in a deal worth an estimated $3 billion. The first of the submarines built at Mumbai’s state-run Mazagon Docks began sea trials in May. The Scorpene is expected to become the mainstay of the Indian Navy’s submarine fleet.
The report in The Australian said the DCNS documents, marked “Restricted Scorpene India”, detail the “most sensitive combat capabilities of India’s new $US3 bn…submarine fleet and would provide an intelligence bonanza if obtained by India’s strategic rivals, such as Pakistan or China”.
The newspaper posted several redacted pages from what appeared to be an operating manual for the submarine on its website.