Project 75 and Recent Data Leak Issue

Under the project 75 or P-75, India had chosen to purchase six Scorpene submarines from France in 2005 for USD 3 billion to replace old submarines {such as Sindhughosh (Kilo) and Shishumar (U209) class of submarines).

Under Project-75, the French company DCNS will be providing design and technology to the public sector Mazagon Docks in order to make six Scorpene submarines. The first of Scorpene submarines would be the INS Kalvari. The hulls of the other five submarines have been cast, and they would be scheduled to be commissioned by 2020.

The Leak

In mid of 2016, The Australian newspaper reported that over 22,000 pages containing details about the combat and performance capabilities of six Scorpene-class submarines were leaked. The leaked data comprised information on many aspects such as stealth capabilities; frequencies at which submarines gain intelligence; noise levels submarines could reach at certain speeds; diving depths, range and endurance; magnetic, electromagnetic and infra-red data; specifications of the submarine’s torpedo launch system and combat system; speed and conditions needed for using the periscope; propeller’s noise specifications; radiated noise levels when the submarine surfaces; weapons data and so on.

The paper reported that the data was leaked from DCNS only and leak also comprised confidential details pertaining to selling French frigates to Chile and the French sale of the Mistral-class amphibious assault ship carrier to Russia. DCNS claimed that the data was leaked from India’s end. Nevertheless, it does have security implications.

Security Implications

The huge data leak of Project 75 has ramifications for India’s defence capabilities and security. Scorpene submarines were to complement to Indian Navy’s stealth capabilities. The leaked data includes very sensitive details of the submarine such as technical manuals and models of the boat’s antennae. Further, it gives elaborate details of frequencies at which the submarine gathers intelligence, what levels of noise it makes at various speeds, range and endurance.  It is critical data which is leaked and it would harm the freedom with which Indian submarines can move in high-seas. However, Defence and Strategic Affairs experts do not look at the leak as really alarming and call for a long-term solution. The long term solution obviously lies in an effective manufacturing capacity of the country.

Implications for Indo-French Relations

In recent years, India has entered into more than three dozen “strategic partnerships”, and amongst them France shares a definite original one. The Australian puts the onus on French company DCNS whereas France looks at the leak onus on India. This leak will definitely have a bearing on India- France ties.

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