New Delhi/Melbourne: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday sought a report from the Navy on the leakage of more than 22,000 pages of top secret data on the capabilities of six highly advanced submarines being built in Mumbai in collaboration with a French company.
The combat capability of the Scorpene submarines being built at Mazagon dock at a cost of USD 3.5 billion by French shipbuilder DCNS, went public when an Australian newspaper, 'The Australian', put the details on the website.
The details leaked included what frequencies the submarines gather intelligence at, what levels of noise they make at various speeds and their diving depths, range and endurance all sensitive information that is highly classified, the Daily said.
It said that 'Marked "Restricted Scorpene India", the DCNS documents detail the most sensitive combat capabilities of India's submarine fleet and would provide an intelligence bonanza if obtained by India's strategic rivals, such as Pakistan or China.'
While the leaked information is still being analysed to gauge the extent of damage, there is fear that it may compromise the submarine's detectability.
Remaining hidden or stealth, is considered the most important attribute of a submarine.
Parrikar seeks report from Navy
Reacting with alacrity to the development, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who learnt about the leak at midnight, ordered Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lamba to go into the 'entire issue". A detailed report is also being sought by the Indian government from DCNS.
"The first step is to identify if it relates to us," Parrikar told reporters in the national capital.
"The Navy Chief (Admiral Sunil Lanba) has been asked to analyse what exactly has been leaked," the Minister said, adding his first assessment was that it was an act of hacking and not a 100 percent leak.
"We do have our final integration and all that," he said, as per IANS.
"What I can understand - because it came to my knowledge around 12 am - there is a hacking. So we will find out all these aspects," he said. "I've told the navy chief to find out all the details. Maybe, in a couple of days I'll be able share with you."
Leak did not happen in India: Navy
Meanwhile, the Indian Navy, in a statement issued shortly after the Minister spoke, stressed the leak did not happen in India.
"The available information is being examined at Integrated Headquarters, Ministry of Defence (Navy) and an analysis is being carried out by the concerned specialists."
"It appears that the source of leak is from overseas and not in India," the statement said.
Leak of documents relating to Scorpene submarines serious matter: DCNS
On the other hans, terming the leak as a 'serious matter', French defence major DCNS today said the issue is being thoroughly investigated by the French national authorities for defence security.
"We have been made aware of articles published in the Australian press related to the leakage of sensitive data about Indian Scorpene. This serious matter is thoroughly investigated by the proper French national authorities for Defence Security, a statement by DCNS headquarters in Paris said, as per PTI.
"This investigation will determine the exact nature of the leaked documents, the potential damages to DCNS customers as well as the responsibilities for this leakage," it added.
Will cooperate with India, says France
Amidst all this, France today said that it had taken 'very seriously' the issue of leak of sensitive documents on advanced submarines being built for the Indian Navy and would work with India very closely with transparency.
As the Scorpene data leak report broke out shaking the Indian defence establishment, French Ambassador Alexandre Ziegler said in Bengaluru that French authorities were trying to assess the extent, nature and sensitivity of information that may have been leaked.
"Well, I have seen the report in the press. What can I tell you is that the French authorities are taking the matter very very seriously and working very seriously with DCNS, the? French ship building company," he told reporters at an event organised at Alliance Francaise.
(With Agency inputs)