Even as French naval contractor DCNS said on Wednesday it may have been the victim of "economic warfare" after secrets about its Scorpene submarines being built in India were leaked, question arises as to who will benefit from the data leak.
DCNS is perhaps the most successful submarine manufacturer in recent times with contract wins in India, Austalia, Norway, Brazil and Poland among others.
Asked if the leak could affect other contracts, a company spokeswoman was quoted as saying to Reuters that it had come against a difficult commercial backdrop and that corporate espionage could be to blame. "Competition is getting tougher and tougher, and all means can be used in this context," she said. "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."
DCNS seemed to imply that its competitors might have leaked the documents as part of ‘economic warfare’. Countries where DCNS submarines are in operation or in the bidding process are almost certain to study the leaks from the perspective of their own operation and selection.
“DCNS has been made aware of articles published in the Australian press related to the leakage of sensitive data about Indian Scorpene. This serious matter is thoroughly investigated by the proper French national authorities for Defense Security. This investigation will determine the exact nature of the leaked documents, the potential damages to DCNS customers as well as the responsibilities for this leakage,” the company said in a statement Wednesday.
DCNS recently won a 34 billion euro contract bid to supply Barracuda submarines to Australian Navy beating Germany’s ThyssenKrupp and Japan’s Mitsubishi and Kawasaki. DCNS is also vying for submarine contracts in Norway and Poland.
The Norwegian Ministry of Defence earlier this month announced that DCNS was identified as one of the two potential candidates alongside Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) for the replacement of its submarine fleet. DCNS has offered Scorpene submarines for the project.
The variants of the Scorpene submarine are used by Malaysia and Chile. Malaysia has two and Chile has two Scorpene submarines. Brazil is also due to deploy four Scorpene submarines starting 2018.
The first of the Scorpene-class submarines being built in India, Kalvari, went for sea trials in May and is expected to be inducted in the Indian Navy by this year-end.
The other five submarines are expected to be ready by August 2021 and are in various stages of development.
Report of 'The Australian' suggests a former French naval officer working as a sub-contractor for the DCNS might be behind the leak of data which were written in France in 2011. The French firm initially suggested the leak might be at the Indian end, saying it supplies but does not control access to technical data.
The Indian defence ministry said in a statement it was investigating the impact of the leak on the submarine programme which it said had occurred from abroad. It gave no details.