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[1]In 2005, India chose the Scorpène design; purchasing six submarines for US$3 billion ($500 million per boat) under Project 75 (P75). The project was necessitated by the dwindling number of submarines in the Indian Navy. Indian Navy needed replacement for the older Sindhughosh (Kilo) and Shishumar (U209) class of submarines. The Scorpène design won the deal, defeating the rival U214 because of the capability to fire Exocet anti-ship missiles and an agreement on the air-independent propulsion (AIP).[2] The submarines are to be manufactured under a technology transfer agreement by the state-owned Mazagon Docks in Mumbai.[3] India plans to incorporate the DRDO-developed air independent propulsion (AIP) system onto the last two submarines being built and also to equip the P75I submarines, of which the DCNS is participating in the tender process.[4]

Construction of the first submarine started on 23 May 2009. The project is running four years behind schedule. Once the new government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over, the project was reviewed and necessary action was taken to make up for the delay.[5]

It was reported in November 2014, that the DRDO-developed AIP system for the last two Scorpène submarines for the Indian Navy has been developed and is ready for testing in February 2015.[6] The government is now finalizing an order for additional three more Kalvari class submarines.[7][8]The first Scorpène submarine, INS Kalvari (named after a deep sea tiger shark),[9] was undocked from the pontoon on 6 April 2015 and launched on 28 October 2015. It completed the Basin trials and Harbor acceptance trials in April 2016 and commenced sea trials on 1 May 2016.[10]


Apart from India, France and Australia, the governments of Malaysia and Chile that have acquired the Scorpene, and Brazil, that is acquiring this platform, will be studying the security implications of this 22,400 pages leak very closely. The gleeful interest, it may be conjectured, will be discernible among the potential adversaries and naval competitors of all the navies that operate Scorpenes. While India and France will need to work together to investigate and redress the contractual breach of security, the operational security implications are predictably opaque — the central characteristic of the submarine domain. As of now, the technical data is being released in the public domain by The Australian in a tantalising trickle to keep the eyeballs glued.

The Australian whistleblower who brought the data into the public domain was reportedly motivated by a sense that his country’s submarine acquisition programme could be compromised due to inadequate data protection protocols. How does this affect the Indian boat, the Kalvari, that is now in its final stage of trials?
The DNA of the submarine is its opacity, and what makes it vulnerable to detection is its distinctive acoustic signature, or the fingerprint of each boat. An adversary spends years trying to acquire this profile by tracking a boat on patrol, a pattern witnessed between the U.S. and Soviet navies during the Cold War decades.

The dynamic part of this spectrum relates to the frequencies related to the sonar (the device used to detect the target) and the propulsion noise at different speeds and depths. Will the Indian Scorpene be compromised if this technical data is released by The Australian?

The dynamic spectrum will be determined only after the final sea trials, and the data leaked may pertain to a broad design bandwidth. This could be tweaked through software changes but what may be a challenge is the propeller-related acoustics. This is the structural part of the acoustic signature and varies from boat to boat. In the event that such basic propulsion/cavitation design data is leaked, advanced digital signal processing could provide many useful clues to an adversary in the tactical domain. Has this happened, thereby making the Kalveri a sitting duck?

Data security/ Inadequate data protection protocols. IAS 2016 MAINS

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