A leak of secret documents from the French company that won the bid to design Australia’s new $50 billion submarine fleet raises fears about the security of top-secret data on the navy’s future fleet, it’s been reported.
The leaked documents seen by The Australian run to 22,400 pages and detail the secret combat capability of six Scorpene-class submarines that French shipbuilder DCNS has designed for the Indian Navy.
The Australian says the leak will spark grave concerns in Australia and in the US where senior navy officials have privately expressed fears about the security of top-secret data entrusted to France.
In April DCNS won the hotly contested bid over Germany and Japan to design 12 new submarines for Australia.
Any stealth advantage for the navy’s new submarines would be gravely compromised if data on its planned combat and performance capabilities was leaked in the same manner as the data from the Scorpene, The Australian says.
It says the US will be alarmed by the leak because Australia hopes to install an American combat system — with the latest US stealth technology — in the French Shortfin Barracuda.
“If Washington does not feel confident that its ‘crown jewels” of stealth technology can be protected, it may decline to give Australia its state-of-the-art combat system,” the paper says.
In a response to the leak DCNS said “uncontrolled technical data is not possible in the Australian arrangements,” and it implied but did not confirm the leak was on the Indian side.
But The Australian says it has been told the Scorpene data is suspected of being removed from France in 2011 by a former French Navy officer who was at that time a DCNS subcontractor.
Image Credits: The Australian