‘It’s not a leak, it’s theft’: Indian submarine docs were stolen, French govt source says

© Bazuki Muhammad
Documents containing detailed descriptions of key features of India’s naval submarines were stolen from the French contractor that built them, a French government source says. Previous reports said the 22,400 pages of top-secret files had been leaked.

“It is not a leak, it is theft,” the source told Reuters on Wednesday, adding that no negligence had been found on the part of French naval contractor DCNS “...but we have identified some dishonesty by an individual.”

The source went on to state that the documents seem to have been stolen in 2011 by a former French employee who had been fired in India while providing training on the use of submarines.

He also said the documents were not classified and appear to have only focused on the operational elements of the submarines.

Both India and France opened investigations after a number of the documents were published on Wednesday by The Australian newspaper, which declined to reveal its source.

The documents give a detailed description of vital features of the six Scorpene-class submarines that were designed for the Indian navy by DCNS, a state-owned French shipbuilding company.

Concerns quickly rose after the documents were published, as many fear the information could be used by India’s rivals – such as Pakistan or China – to identify and destroy the French-built submarines in wartime.

In particular, the files detail the Scorpene submarines’ diving depth, range, and endurance, as well as the frequencies on which they gather intelligence and the levels of noise they make at various speeds. The documents also describe where the crew can safely speak on the vessel to avoid detection by the enemy.

The papers also reportedly disclose the specifications of the Scorpene’s torpedo launch system and weapons control electronics, which would allow an adversary to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the Indian navy’s submarine forces.

The documents include 4,457 pages concerning the submarines’ underwater sensors, 4,209 pages on their above-water sensors, 4,301 pages about their combat control systems, 493 pages describing their torpedo launch system, 6,841 pages detailing the subs’ communications systems, and 2,138 pages of information on their navigation systems.

The new $3 billion submarine fleet is being built at a state-run shipyard in Mumbai in order to rebuild India’s dwindling naval fleet. The first DCNS-designed Scorpene – which was chosen above its German and Japanese rivals because of its superior stealth capabilities – is expected to enter service by the end of the year.

Along with India, Scorpene-class submarines are operated by the Malaysian, Spanish, and Chilean navies.