An apparent case of industrial espionage could have major financial consequences for the French military contractor DCNS.
The Australian newspaper has reported 22,000 pages of secret details of the combat capabilities of its Scorpene submarines have been leaked.
DCNS has designed six of those submarines which are being built in India to replace the country’s aging fleet.
The newspaper reported the leak includes highly sensitive details of the craft’s capabilities.
India’s Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said he has told the Chief of the Navy to analyse what has been leaked, to find out what the leaked documents say about the submarines they are buying and what impact that will have on India.
DCNS – which is jointly owned by the French government and engineering firm Thales – seemed to imply competitors might have leaked the documents, as part of what it called “economic warfare”.
It recently beat Germany’s ThyssenKrupp and a Japanese-government backed bid by Mitsubishi and Kawasaki in Australia for a 34 billion euro contract to supply the Barracuda next generation of submarines to the Australia navy. DCNS is also bidding to build them for Norway and Poland.
A company spokeswoman said: “Competition is getting tougher and tougher, and all means can be used in this context. There is India, Australia and other prospects, and other countries could raise legitimate questions over DCNS. It’s part of the tools in economic warfare.”
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull sought to deflect concern about the leak, touting the high security standards in Australia, where the submarine will be built. The Australian reported that the leak occurred in France in 2011.
“But clearly, it is a reminder that, particularly in this digital world, cyber security is of critical importance,” Turnbull told the Seven TV network.
In addition, essential elements of the Australian submarines will be supplied from the United States rather than by DCNS.