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France's DCNS probing Scorpene leak, blames competition

25 August 2016

French shipbuilder DCNS said today it is investigating the leak of 22,500 pages of data on the six Scorpene submarines that it is building in Mumbai for the Indian Navy. The manufacturer said the leak could be the work of competitors who it beat for the large Australian contract.

India is meanwhile investigating the extent to which secrets about the submarines being built have been compromised.

French shipbuilder DCNS designed the submarines in a $3.5-billion deal with India.

India will ask DCNS for a report on the leak; sources in the Navy said, adding that the information was disclosed outside India.

The leak was first reported in The Australian newspaper. Ship maker DCNS has a nearly $38-billion contract with Australia, but the leak has no mention of the 12 vessels being designed for Australia.

"The competition is more and more hard and all means can be used in this context," said a DCNS spokeswoman quoted by news agency Reuters. "It's part of the tools in economic war," she said.

"I understand there has been a case of hacking," said India's defence minister Manohar Parrikar, adding that the Navy will present a detailed report to him.

French national security authorities are investigating the size, seriousness and cause of the leak.

The first of the Scorpenes being built in Mumbai is expected to go into service by the end of the year, the first step in the Navy's effort to rebuild its dwindling submarine fleet.

India has a fleet of 13 ageing submarines, only half of which are operational at any time, opening up a major gap with China which is expanding its maritime presence in the Indian Ocean.

In india, defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday sought a report from the Navy on the leak (See: Scorpene leak: Parrikar seeks report from Navy chief).

The Australian put the details of the combat capability of the Scorpene submarines being built at Mazagon dock on its website.

The first India-built submarine is expected to go into service by the end of the year.

The leak has raised doubts about the security of DCNS's submarine project in Australia where it is locked in exclusive negotiations after seeing off rivals for a A$50 billion ($38 billion) contract to build the Barracuda next generation of submarines.

DCNS, which is 35-per cent owned by Thales, said it was working to determine if any harm had been caused to clients with a view to drawing up an action plan.

The leaked data include details of the frequencies at which the submarines gather intelligence, the levels of noise they make at various speeds and their diving depths, range and endurance all sensitive information that is highly classified, the Australian said.

French naval contractor DCNS said it may have been the victim of "economic warfare" after secrets of Scorpene submarines were leaked.

"I understand there has been a case of hacking," Parrikar told reporters. "We will find out what has happened."

Asked if the leak could affect other contracts, a company spokeswoman said it had come against a difficult commercial backdrop and that corporate espionage could be to blame.

DCNS, which is also vying for submarine contracts in Norway and Poland, beat Germany's ThyssenKrupp AG and a Japanese-government backed bid by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries in Australia.

The leaked documents cover the Scorpene-class model and do not contain any details of the vessel currently being designed for the Australian fleet.

The leaked details of the Scorpene submarines creates a strategic problem for India, Malaysia and Chile, all of which operate the same submarine, although Parrikar denied any serious data loss (Alarm bells ring in Navy as Scorpene sub details hacked).

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