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Navy to probe data leak in Scorpene submarine project

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

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Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has ordered a probe into the leak of sensitive data on India’s Scorpene submarines, which are being jointly developed by French firm DCNS and state-run Mazagon Dock Ltd under a transfer-of-technology arrangement.

This comes a day after an Australian daily reported a massive data leak, running into 22,400 pages, with details of the submarines’ operational/combat capabilities.

“It is a case of hacking. Navy chief has been asked to analyse what exactly has been leaked. The first step is to identify if it is related to us. In any case, it’s not a 100 per cent leak,” Parrikar told reporters on Wednesday.

The Defence Minister, who learnt about the leak late on Tuesday, said it would take two to three days to assess the extent of the leak.

A statement from the Indian Navy said the data seem to have been leaked from abroad. “The available information is being examined... and an analysis is being carried out,” the statement read.

The government has also sought a report from DCNS on the leak that put the fate of the $3.5-billion submarines project at risk. “This... matter is thoroughly being investigated by... French national authorities for Defence Security. This investigation will determine the... nature of the leaked documents, the potential damages to DCNS customers as well as the responsibilities for this leakage,” it said in a note issued in Paris.

The leak runs the risk of stalling the Scorpene P-75 programme, one of the most ambitious armed forces modernisation programmes. The submarines are to become the Navy’s core strength, a top source told BusinessLine.

The first of the Scorpene class submarines — INS Kalvari — is undergoing sea trials. If the programme is stalled at a stage when the submarines are gearing for commissioning, it would be a “major setback”, sources said.

Earlier this year, the project suffered a setback when the government refused to buy torpedoes for the submarines from a subsidiary of scam-tainted Italian firm Finmeccanica.

Published on August 24, 2016

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