Scorpene data leak: Indian officials indicate an end to DCNS proposal for three new submarines
A spokesperson for the French defence contractor said they were not informed of the decision and that talks were ongoing with the government.
Indian defence officials on Sunday indicated that there will no longer be any discussion on French naval contractor, DCNS, building three new submarines for the country, as had been planned earlier, Reuters reported. A data leak of more than 20,000 documents, which included details of the Scorpene submarines being built for India, was reported by an Australian daily in August.
DCNS had proposed to build three more submarines, in addition to the six it is building at Mumbai's Mazgon Docks Shipyard, to substitute India's ageing Soviet-era vessels. "We had an agreement for six, and six it will remain," an official told Reuters. However, a DCNS spokesperson, Emmanuel Gaudez, said the contractor was "stunned" by the information. "The talks are ongoing with the government and our Indian partners. We have not been informed in anyway of such a decision," he said.
According to officials, India has asked the defence contractor to provide information about the extent of the leak and how the documents were released to The Australian. An Indian naval panel is mulling over changing some aspects of the submarine's design to avoid any liabilities caused by the data breach. The bench also disallowed The Australian from publishing any more information on the Scorpene submarine,
While the company had alleged that economic warfare may be responsible for the leak, Indian officials have highlighted a non-disclosure clause in its contract with DCNS. A French government official told Reuters that the company's data had been stolen and not leaked, adding that it was unlikely that the data compromised was classified. The Supreme Court of Australia had directed The Australian to hand over all the documents it has on the submarines to DCNS.
The first of the six submarines underwent sea trials in May and is scheduled to be inducted into the fleet by the end of the year. The five other submarines are estimated to be incorporated by 2020. Only half of India's 13-vessel submarine unit functions at any given time, ranking the country way behind China and Pakistan, Reuters reported. India had approved an $8 billion acquisition of submarines besides the Scorpene. Russia, Germany's ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems and DCNS have expressed interest in developing the infrastructure.