The recent Scorpene data leak has stirred quite a storm in the Indian defence scenario. India has spent close to $3.9 billion on six Scorpene submarines built by French major, Direction des Constructions et Armes Navales (DCNS). As per the Australian daily where the data was leaked, nearly 22000 pages of sensitive information about the key induction in India’s Naval force was compromised.
As per India’s Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, “First step is to identify if it’s related to us, and anyway it’s not all 100% leak.” DCNS on its part has called it potential “economic warfare.” While some experts say the leak could have a major bearing on Indian naval forces war preparedness given the fact that key details like stealth, speed etc is now out in the open, there are some who believe that the leak is from overseas sources and not India.
It goes without saying that the data leak surely exposes potential chinks in the armour of the Indian defence forces. DCNS built the Scorpene submarines were set to take the Indian naval forces expertise a notch higher and company spokespersons want to project it as a move from competitors. But the fact remains that it surely has raised doubts about the security of DCNS’s submarine project not only in India but contracts from many other countries, most prominently the one from Australia for Barracuda submarines.
The question that stares us on the face is whether this is the beginning of a modern style of combat that might increasingly become common practice in the world. Yes the fear at the moment is how material could the impact be on India’s war strategies going forward? Would India have to scrap its close to $4 billion submarine contract? If not then does it make sense for India to continue with a project about which significant details are out in the open, especially with the first of the submarines schedules to be commissioned by end of this year? Well it is needless to mention that the India Government needs to decide on a course of action at the earliest and every minute’s delay could be a source of major worry.
But the story would not end with just DCNS but looking at comprehensive policy to deal with other potentially significant and confidential data that could expose the country’s chief war strategy.