Navy confident Scorpene exposé won't sting India

MoD takes up issue with France; data likely to have been stolen by fired DCNS employee

Published: 26th August 2016 03:02 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th August 2016 03:02 AM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: A day after data related to Scorepene-class submarines were leaked, the Navy after an internal audit said the episode does not pose any ‘security compromise’. However, the Australian media released a new set of documents that defence experts fear completely reveals the submarines' capabilities.

The explosive documents contain details of the actual frequencies, safety parameter zones, array performance among others.  But, the Navy, in a statement on Thursday, claimed, “The documents that have been posted on the website by an Australian news agency have been examined and do not pose any security compromise as the vital parameters have been blacked out.” Citing security concerns of India, The Australian, a newspaper based down under, had put out only a few of the 22,400 pages in its possession and blackened out vital information.

The Navy also said the leak appeared to have happened “overseas and not in India” and requested the French government to investigate the incident with urgency and share the findings. It confirmed that it had taken up the matter with France's Directorate General of Armament. The Navy argued that the leaked documents were outdated technical manuals and do not constitute sensitive information. The Navy also said the matter was being taken up with the foreign governments concerned through diplomatic channels.

The French authorities, meanwhile, claimed the documents were stolen, not leaked. “It is not a leak, it is theft,” Reuters reported, quoting a French government source. “We have not found any DCNS (the French shipbuilder) negligence, but we have identified some dishonesty by an individual,” the source told the news agency.  France claims the documents appear to have been stolen in 2011 by a former French employee, who was fired while he was providing training in India on the use of the submarines, for his “dishonesty”.

The Defence Ministry held a series of meetings in the wake of the documents' leak. Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba and other top officials are briefing Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on the matter regularly. Officials of the MoD are of the view that if need be, an Indian team could be sent abroad to ascertain facts of the leak. A formal report is expected to be submitted to Parrikar by next month. It was not clear who was in possession of these documents — DCNS, Navy or the Mumbai-based Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL), where the Scorpene submarines are being built. The MDL on Thursday clarified that the leak did not take place from its end.

In a related development, Australia has told DCNS it wants the same level of information security like it enjoys with its closest ally, the US. Australia too is acquiring DCNS submarines.

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