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Passionate gamers leak classified military documents online — twice in 2 days

Classified information regarding the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet has been leaked to a gaming forum for a popular air, ground, and flight combat simulation.

user iconRobert Dougherty and David Hollingworth
Mon, 23 Jan 2023
Passionate gamers leak classified military documents online — twice in 2 days
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The video game in question is “War Thunder”, a popular online game that pits a range of military vehicles against one another. And the reason this keeps happening?

Gamers just really, really want to win arguments on the internet. Especially when it comes to the performance of war-fighting hardware in the real world.

In this case, a passionate fan of the game posted export-restricted documents regarding the fighter jet and its use of AIM-120 air-to-air missiles. The details — which are admittedly quite old, but nonetheless still restricted were shared on 16 January before being quickly removed by forum moderators.

Konstantin Govorun, Gaijin Entertainment’s head of public relations, said the company employs specialists to constantly monitor all legal sources of information and delete any classified data.

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“We always delete all classified or restricted data as soon as possible, that’s our rule and we clearly tell our users that they should never post this in the first place,” Govorun said.

And then one day later it all happened again, this time with a forum user wanting to win an argument regarding the F-15 Eagle. This was a much larger data set, however, containing information on weapon systems, avionics, and targeting.

The post was again deleted, and despite the poster arguing that everything they’d referenced was in fact declassified, a community manager on the “War Thunder” forums posted a definitive stance on sharing anything that may even appear to be problematic.

“If you cannot prove something is publically [sic] available, fully declassified and without any restrictions, do not post it at all,” the manager posted.

“No ifs, buts or it “maybes” [sic]. If you cannot prove it, don’t do it all.”

Amazingly, the company is only now threatening its users with bans on its forums, or deactivation of their entire game account if it happens again.

Restricted military vehicle information has been previously posted on three other occasions, relating to the Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopter, France’s Leclerc main battle tank, and a Chinese 125mm armour-piercing projectile.

All data leaks were removed by forum moderators at the time.

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