Prime Minister Modi raised with French President Francois Hollande the leak of secret data on Scorpene submarines that India has bought but is now worried its underwater fleet might have become vulnerable even before it was ready to enter service.
Details of the Scorpene were published in The Australian newspaper last month, leaving navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba to say the leak was “very serious”. The defence ministry also wrote to the submarine’s French makers, DCNS, asking for details about the extent of the leak and how the data ended up in the public domain.
“This issue has also figured (in the talks),” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup told reporters when asked if the two leaders discussed the matter on the sidelines of the G20 Summit on Monday.
India is looking to replace its ageing Soviet-era fleet. The Scorpene is being built in Mumbai in collaboration with DCNS. The leak included more than 22,000 pages of data on the submarine’s intelligence gathering frequencies, diving depth, endurance and weapons specifications.
The data leak, which reportedly happened overseas, has fed speculation that India is unlikely to give DCNS a proposed order for three new submarines in addition to the six it is already building in Mumbai.
The Australian has been restricted from publishing any more of leaked documents related to India’s Scorpene submarine project by the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
Officials are also looking at the option of altering some features of the submarine, the first of which began sea trials in May for induction later this year, to minimise any damage, Reuters reported last week.