A submarine is only as effective as the secrets it keeps. If an enemy knows those secrets, the game is over. As the old wartime saying goes, “loose lips sink ships.”
There is almost no breach of national security more serious than the disclosure of the stealth secrets of a country’s submarine fleet.
A massive data leak detailing the combat and stealth capabilities of the Indian Navy’s soon-to-be inducted French Scorpene submarines has been reported. The leak could potentially affect the combat capabilities of the sub-surface platforms and could provide crucial intelligence data to India’s strategic rivals, Pakistan & China.
Mazgaon Docks Limited (MDL) is building six Scorpene submarines with technology transfer from DCNS of France. The first of six submarines, the INS Kalvari, is now being built at Mumbai's Mazgaon Docks.
Marked “Restricted Scorpene India”, the leaked document, which runs to 22,400 pages describe in excruciating detail — line by line and bolt by bolt — the entire combat abilities of India’s new six-boat Scorpene submarine fleet.
The data tells the submarine crew where they can speak safely to avoid detection by the enemy. It also discloses frequencies the submarines gather intelligence at, what levels of noise they make at various speeds and their diving depths, range and endurance, magnetic, electromagnetic and infrared data as well as the specifications of the submarine’s torpedo launch system and the combat system — all sensitive information that is highly classified. It details the speed and conditions needed for using the periscope, the noise specifications of the propeller and the radiated noise levels that occur when the submarine surfaces.
The data includes 4,457 pages on the submarine’s underwater sensors, 4,209 pages on its above-water sensors, 4,301 pages on its combat management system, 493 pages on its torpedo launch system and specifications, 6,841 pages on the sub’s communications system and 2,138 on its navigation systems.
The information about the leak was first reported by Australian newspaper The Australian. DCNS says the leak might have occurred at India’s end, rather than from France but the australian news agency suggests otherwise.
The Australian has been told that the data on the Scorpene was written in France for India in 2011 and is suspected of being removed from France in that same year by a former French Navy officer who was at that time a DCNS subcontractor.
The data is then believed to have been taken to a company in Southeast Asia, possibly to assist in a commercial venture for a regional navy.
It was subsequently passed by a third party to a second company in the region before being sent on a data disk by regular mail to a company in Australia. It is unclear how widely the data has been shared in Asia or whether it has been obtained by foreign intelligence agencies.
The data seen by The Australian also includes separate confidential DCNS files on plans to sell French frigates to Chile and the French sale of the Mistral-class amphibious assault ship carrier to Russia. These DCNS projects have no link to India, which adds weight to the probability that the data files were removed from DCNS in France.
It is possible that the data was leaked from Frnech side but it is the matter of investigation hence we expect that the Govt of India will soon find out.
Variants of the submarine are used by Malaysia and Chile. Brazil is also due to deploy the vessels from 2018.
Sea trials for the first of India’s six Scorpene submarines began in May. The project is running four years behind schedule. The Indian Navy has boasted that its Scorpene submarines have superior stealth features, which give them a major advantage against other submarines.
Here’s all you need to know about India’s Scorpene Submarine
• The ongoing project for the construction of six Scorpene class submarines, has M/S DCNS of France, as Collaborator and includes ‘Transfer of Technology’, with M/s MDL as the ‘Builder’.
• Kalvari would be commissioned into the Indian Navy as INS Kalvari later this year.
• The state-of-art features of the Scorpene include superior stealth and the ability to launch a crippling attack on the enemy using precision guided weapons. The attack can be launched with torpedoes, as well as tube launched anti-ship missiles, whilst underwater or on surface. The Stealth features give it invulnerability, unmatched by many submarines.
• The Scorpene Submarine is designed to operate in all theatres including the Tropics. All means and communications are provided to ensure interoperability with other components of a Naval Task Force. It can undertake multifarious types of missions typically undertaken by any modern submarine i.e Anti-Surface warfare, Anti-Submarine warfare, Intelligence gathering, Mine Laying, Area Surveillance etc.
• The Scorpene is equipped with Weapons Launching Tubes (WLT), and can carry weapons on board which can be easily reloaded at sea, through special handling and loading equipment. The array of weapons and complex sensors fitted on board the Scorpene are managed by a high technology Combat Management System, which integrates various diverse systems fitted onboard into One Formidable Whole.
The secret information the leaked documents reveal:
• The stealth capabilities of the six new Indian Scorpene submarines
• The frequencies at which the subs gather intelligence
• The levels of noise the subs make at various speeds
• Diving depths, range and endurance
• Magnetic, electromagnetic and infra-red data
• Specifications of the submarine’s torpedo launch system and the combat system
• Speed and conditions needed for using the periscope
• Propeller’s noise specifications
• Radiated noise levels when the submarine surfaces
ShankhNaad has accessed parts of leaked data but due to security concerns, we can not make them public.
Ministry of Defence will soon hold a press conference in this regard.
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