By Chandni Ahuja
Posted on: 27 August 2016
What is the Scorpene Leak?
On August 24, 2016, The Australian carried a report that the French defence manufacturer DCNS had revealed approximately 22,400 confidential documents pertaining to the military capabilities of the Scorpene class submarines. The leak has highlighted the danger of defence imports, with calls for India to produce its own military equipment. It is being assumed that leak happened due to the cut-throat competition between private players in the military-industrial complex, with one employee divulging the information to quit and join a rival firm.
What is DCNS?
Submarine manufacturing giant DCNS, is a France based industrial group, specializing in naval defence and underwater weaponry. The French government has two-thirds ownership in the company, and it has provided submarines to many countries. Apart from the Scorpene class submarines purchased by India, Malaysia and Chile, DCNS also produces nuclear submarines.
Previously, the group has been embroiled in controversies relating to corruption and illicit supply of warships to Taiwan in the 1990s.
What was the deal between India and DCNS?
India had signed a $3.75 billion deal with DCSN, as per which it were to make 6 Scorpene class submarines for the Indian Navy. The INS Kalvari launched in December 2015 was a part of this deal, with 5 more on the way.
What all was leaked?
According to The Australian, about 22,400 pages have been leaked from the manuals of the manufacturer. These include highly sensitive information about the submarine’s capability including:
-the frequencies at which it gathers information, and the bandwidth within which it operates;
-details about its torpedo launch system, combat system and stealth capabilities;
-the noise it will make at what speed, diving depth, range and endurance;
-its magnetic, electromagnetic and infra-red data.
What is the Australian connection?
DCNS group had won a 50 billion dollar contract to build Australia’s next generation of Submarines in May 2016. This leak has become a big cause of worry for them.
What is the Indian Navy’s Response?
Initially, the Indian Navy responded that the crisis was mitigated because of the blackout of the frequency-related details. Rtd. Vice Admiral A. K Singh said that 90 of Scorpene’s capability data was already available to armed forces around the world, and the only cause of worry should be the frequencies of radiated noises. Later, the Australian clarified that the frequency related data had been leaked into the public domain, but the newspaper had withheld its publication.
What does this mean for India?
Submarines are a paramount for a country’s national security as they can travel clandestinely underwater for months, close to the enemy’s shoreline. It can even launch secret attacks.
Traditionally, tracking submarines of the enemy country has been one of the hardest military exercises, and armies spend years on it. With this leak, all that data is readily accessible to armies across the world. If this data gets into the hands of Pakistan and China, it can be a grave concern for India.
What does the future hold?
According to Josy Joseph, Editor for National Security at The Hindu, this is an unprecedented military data leak in India’s history, and, “India needs to build its own indigenous military capabilities, otherwise such leaks would become frequent in the digital world”. Meanwhile, the Australian Courts have ordered The Australian to hand over all the documents to the DCNS, and stop publishing any more details pertaining to the case.
Collection of watchdog reporting from India