The Scorpene Submarine document leak news story by ‘The Australian’ is being now hotly debated in India as it pertains to the Indian Kalvari class or P 75 program. However, a reading of the documents uploaded by the Australian news source shows that it is more of commercial data than sensitive military data.
“Whilst the leak itself is distressing, all sorts of alarming conclusions being voiced by many. From what is available on the leak most of it relates to the design which though undesirable from a royalty issue does not pose any threat. It just gives the entity which has obtained the data the opportunity to make some commercial gains,” said Cmde Arun Kumar (Retd) who had steered the Scorpene Submarine project as DSMAQ and is the consultant to the book Foxtrot to Arihant, The Story of Indian Navy’s Submarine Arm published by Frontier India.
The commercial nature of the data leak is a source of concern for the Indian Navy but this is not the first time such data leak has occurred. In the past, the German firm HDW had supplied the sketches of the Indian Shishumar Class submarines – the Indian variant of the Type 209 submarines under the internal designation Type 1500, to the apartheid regime in South Africa. HDW subsequently supplied an improved version of the submarine, SSK Manthatisi Class (Type 209/1400), to South Africa and India had trained a batch of South African submariners.
The extent of data leak is yet to be ascertained, but it may not be end of the P 75 project. If sensitive military data is compromised, there might be remedy too.
“More serious is the issue of sensors frequencies and radiated noise data. The data leaked is of the generic design because ultimately each platform has its unique signature values measured during the constructor’s sea trials which in our case are underway and the measurements are well within our control. Spot frequencies of sensors can be changed. The basic characteristics of weapons and the combat management system are usually in public domain in professional publications like those of the Jane’s group. One has to take stock of the situation in a mature and sober manner. In the ultimate analysis it is the MMI or man machine interface which decides the outcome at sea. To me the whole incident smacks of commercial rivalry in an increasingly competitive market. I had always during my tenure as DSMAQ advocated for Government to Government contracts which ensure sovereign guarantee to safeguard classified information,’ says Cmde Arun Kumar (Retd).