Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has sought a report from the Indian Navy chief on the leak of thousands of pages of secret data on the combat capability of the Scorpene-class submarines being built in India in a $3.5 billion project.
"What I understand is that there has been a hacking ... the first important thing is to identify if it is related to us," the defence minister said after an Australian newspaper reported the leak. Parrikar said that he had learned about the leak at midnight on Tuesday, and that he expected details in a couple of days.
The Australian newspaper has said it has accessed 22,400 leaked pages, marked "Restricted Scorpene India", of what is essentially the operating manual of the submarine, designed by French defence contractor DCNS for the Indian Navy.
The first of six submarines, the INS Kalvari, is now being built at Mumbai's Mazgaon Docks.
The classified data now out in the open includes thousands of pages on the submarine sensors and thousands more on its communication and navigation systems as well as nearly 500 pages on the torpedo launch system alone.
The Australian reports that DCNS has implied that the leak may have come from India, but the daily said the data was thought to have been removed from France in 2011 by a former French navy officer who at the time was a subcontractor for DCNS.
The data is believed to have passed through firms in Southeast Asia before eventually being mailed to a company in Australia, the newspaper said.
DCNS has said it has launched an inquiry which "will determine the precise nature of the documents which have been leaked, the potential damage to our customers as well as those responsible."
DCNS also said today that it could not rule out that leaked documents on submarines built for India were part of an "economic war" by competitors after the firm won a tender in Australia earlier this year. "The competition is more and more hard and all means can be used in this context," a DCNS spokeswoman said.
Variants of the submarine are used by Malaysia and Chile. Brazil is also due to deploy the vessels from 2018. Australia has awarded a submarine contract to DCNS, but the secret combat system for the 12 Shortfin Barracudas is being supplied by the United States.