French DCNS in Indian Scorpene submarine leak scandal

INS Kalvari, first of six Scorpene-class submarines is seen leaving the Mazagon Dock shipyard in India. Photo: DCNS

A massive leak of documents containing top-secret technical details of the Indian Navy’s Scorpene-class submarines has hit the French defense company DCNS which is set to build new Australian submarines.

The documents, first revealed by The Australian, contain 22,400 pages and detail secret combat capabilities of the six Indian Navy submarines designed by DCNS.

The Indian government said available information was being examined by the country’s Ministry of Defence noting that that the source of leak appeared to be from overseas and not from India.

While The Australian decided to edit sensitive information from the documents showing only a small portion of them, the news site said the documents revealed everything related to the submarine’s underwater and above-water sensors, combat management system, torpedo launch system and communication and navigation systems.

This scandal is likely to cause concerns in Australia since DCNS won a AU$$50 billion contract to build a fleet of new submarines for the Australian navy in April.

Even before the scandal, U.S. officials have been reported as saying that the U.S. feared the French defence contractor DCNS, who would be building the submarines, would leak confidential information about the U.S. technology that would be fitted on the subs.

Seeking to reassure Australia of the confidentiality of its submarine program, DCNS appeared to be blaming India for the leak.

“Multiple and independent controls exist within DCNS to prevent unauthorised access to data and all data movements are encrypted and recorded. In the case of India, where a DCNS design is built by a local company, DCNS is the provider and not the controller of technical data. In the case of Australia, and unlike India, DCNS is both the provider and in-country controller of technical data for the full chain of transmission and usage over the life of the submarines,” DCNS was quoted as saying by The Australian.

The Future Submarine Program is the largest defense procurement program in Australia’s history and represents an investment in the order of over $40 billion in Australia’s security.

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