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PARIS (AP) — Sensitive data on submarines designed for India's navy have leaked from a leading French shipbuilder with military customers around the world.
Analysts say the leak is a blow to India's navy and could compromise its underwater combat capabilities. India has spent $3.9 billion on six conventionally powered Scorpene submarines built by France's DCNS and inducted for trial in 2015.
DCNS said in a statement that French national security authorities are investigating how many documents leaked, the level of sensitivity, and the prejudice to the client.
Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar told reporters that he asked the navy chief to determine what information was exposed. Speaking to reporters in New Delhi, he said the leak did not appear to have come from India.
The newspaper The Australian reported that more than 22,000 pages of documents were leaked, including descriptions of what frequencies the submarines use to gather intelligence, where a crew can speak safely to avoid detection, and specifications of the torpedo launch system. The report says the information was suspected to have been taken in 2011 by a French former DCNS sub-contractor.
DCNS has also sold Scorpenes to Malaysia, Spain and Brazil.
The leak seems to "represent a significant compromise," said Uday Bhaskar, a retired Indian naval commodore and defense analyst.
"At a time when India's underwater capability, its submarine fleet, is in dire need of new platforms, each of these developments is going to delay the full operational induction of the Scorpene to enhance India's overall national power," he said.
Rahul Bedi, an analyst for the independent Jane's Information Group, said that "the Indian navy's already depleted submarine fleet is bound to undergo a further setback after this revelation."
The leak also raised questions in Australia, which signed a big-budget deal in April with DCNS for 12 Shortfin Barracuda submarines.
Defense Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said the leak "has no bearing" on the Australian deal, insisting the contract is covered by "stringent security requirements that govern the manner in which all information and technical data is managed now and into the future."
But independent Sen. Nick Xenophon said the government "should consider suspending negotiations (on the submarine deal) until it gets to the bottom of this."
Ashok Sharma in New Delhi, and Kristen Gelineau in Sydney, contributed to this report.
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