WTF?! Governments looking for classified documents on other nations' military vehicles might no longer require spies to get the job done; they can just check out the War Thunder forum. Once again, someone used the popular game's message board to post restricted military Intel—twice.
The first incident occurred earlier this week during a discussion about the F-16 Fighting Falcon, a single-engine multirole fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force. It was introduced in 1978 but is still used in active duty today.
Aerotime reports that during the lengthy conversation about the aircraft, a user called spacenavy90 wrote that he found something "interesting" during his research about AMRAAM missiles for the F-16. He proved this by attaching a document that contained export-restricted data.
The document appears to be either an F-16 flight manual or part of it. Its classified status has expired, but distribution is still restricted. The documents were soon removed and developer Gaijin Entertainment once again reminded people that posting confidential military Intel was not allowed.
The incident didn't deter others. Eurogamer writes that after the F-16 documents were posted, over a dozen system manuals for the F-15E US strike fighter, a vehicle that isn't even in the game, were leaked. Again, moderators quickly deleted the post.
A Chinese MBT crew member may have just leaked (a lot of) classified shell information on the Warthunder forum. Article soon.— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) June 1, 2022
This is a familiar phenomenon for the War Thunder forums. Schematics for the Challenger 2 tank extracted from its Army Equipment Support Publication (AESP) were posted in 2021. This was followed a few months later by another leaked document, this one on the French Leclerc Main Battle Tank and its variants, prompting Gaijin to warn users against the practice as the team didn't want to "end up chained at the bottom of a disguised CIA cargo ship in international waters." The warning was ignored—classified documents relating to Chinese tanks were posted to the forum last year.
These documents are usually posted to win arguments. But even those that have been declassified fall under the jurisdiction of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which limits the disclosure of US weapons data. One has to wonder if proving you're correct is worth a potential ten-year prison sentence.