Canberra, Aug 26: Australia’s Defence Department has warned French shipbuilding company DCNS to ensure total security of the plans for 12 next-generation naval submarine set to be built in Australia.
Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne reportedly sent a strongly-worded statement to DCNS after it was revealed that, earlier this week, files containing sensitive information about Indian submarines had been leaked to the public.
Australian officials have told the French shipbuilder that it wants the same level of protection given to the US regarding information on Australia’s 12 new, $40 billion submarines.
More than 22,000 pages of information, including design specifications as well as weapons and security details, were leaked online, prompting the company to suggest they might have been hacked.
The Australian uploaded fresh set of ‘leaked’ documents on India’s Scorpene submarines on Thursday revealing functional description, including the cylindrical and flank array, sonar interception and a number of other details on the boat.
The document, with “Restricted Scorpene India” written on it, has a System Technical Manual and an Operating Instruction Manual that have crucial details of the combat management system.
While the vital parameters and exact details have been redacted or blacked out, the original documents contain all data.
These details may be put together and make detecting the submarine easier.
The document even gives out the frequency band of the Sonar intercept receiver, distributed array, active array.
As the Indian Navy on Thursday said the issue had been taken up with the French government, a high-level committee had been set up by the Defence Ministry to analyse the impact.
Meanwhile, Indian Navy has so far maintained that the details would not reveal the final submarine’s signature, as the specifications in the document are generic and each boat has a unique signature that is known only when it is ready and in the waters.
The first set of documents uploaded by The Australian, included technical manuals of the boat, as also details like its acoustic signature and levels of noise radiation.
DCNS won the multi-billion dollar contract in April, edging out competitors from Germany and Japan.
Australian Submarine model not compromised
While the leak was considered “very concerning”, it does not affect that Australian “shortfin barracuda” model.
Minister for Defence Industry, Christopher Pyne, in a statement said that he had received advice from the Department of Defence that the leak of the “DCNS project in India has no bearing on the Australian Government’s Future Submarine Program.
“The Future Submarine Program operates under stringent security requirements that govern the manner in which all information and technical data is managed now and into the future.
“The same requirements apply to the protection of all sensitive information and technical data for the Collins class submarines, and have operated successfully for decades”, Pyne said.
Despite Pyne’s earlier assurance of “no bearing” on Australia’s Future Submarine Programme, but on Friday reaffirmed Australia’s concerns over security to the company.
DCNS issued a statement earlier in the week which said the “French national authorities for defence security will formally investigate and determine the exact nature of the leaked documents.
“The matters in connection to India have no bearing on the Australian submarine programme which operates under the Australian government’s arrangements for the protection of sensitive data,” the statement said.