French Ex-Naval Officer Might Be Behind Scorpene Leak: Reports

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New Delhi: French firm DCNS, which is making the stealth submarines jointly with India, said the leak of documents+ is “a serious matter pertaining to the Indian Scorpene programme “. French authorities for defence security will investigate and determine the exact nature of the leaked documents, the manufacturer said.

Reports said the leaked data includes stealth capabilities of the Scorpene submarines, frequencies at which intelligence is gathered, noise levels at various speeds, diving depths, range and endurance, magnetic and electro-magnetic data, propeller noise, speed conditions for periscope use and torpedo launches.

Report of ‘The Australian’ suggests a former French naval officer working as a sub-contractor for the DCNS might be behind the leak of data which were written in France in 2011. The French firm initially suggested the leak might be at the Indian end, saying it supplies but does not control access to technical data.

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But DCNS’s plans to sell frigates to Chile and an amphibious ship to Russia are also part of the leaks and are not connected to India’s Scorpene deal. The report claimed the leak details the “entire secret combat capability of the six Scorpene-class submarines”.

Indian officers, however, claimed the leak will not have a major adverse impact on the operational deployment of the diesel-electric vessels by India. “I have asked the Navy chief to study the entire issue+ . There has been a hacking,” defence minister Manohar Parrikar said.

The Navy said the leaks seem to happened from an overseas destination. Information linked to class and type of submarine and its manufacturer is likely to be available with rival navies but leak of details regarding operational frequencies and the electromagnetic “signature” of the submarines is a concern.

The leak immediately grabbed global attention as a variant of the Scorpene is used by navies of Malaysia, Chile and Brazil and DCNS has just won a major contract to supply its new range of Shortfin Barracuda submarines to Australia.

The data is believed to have reached a company in south-east Asia involved in a commercial venture by a regional navy and was passed through two parties before being sent on a data disk by mail to a firm in Australia.

The sea trials of the Indian submarines have been on since May and the project is behind schedule. The stealth technology will give Indian Navy an edge in the Indian Ocean region as it can collect intelligence and detect military movements.

Though Parrikar said he does not suspect the leak to be 100%, as much of the final integration will be according to Indian specifications — indicating that some parameters can be altered.