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How An Argument Over War Thunder Cause Military Secrets To Get Leaked

Leaks in the gaming industry are usually intentional and reveal secret information about upcoming titles. When one thinks of leaks, it almost exclusively pertains to revealing something in a game, like the recent "Grand Theft Auto 6" leaks that spoiled development details on the yet-to-be-announced sequel. Sometimes, though, leaks work the other way around, and something in real life that shouldn't have been accessible by anyone — especially gamers in online arguments — gets leaked to the public.

"War Thunder" describes itself as "the most realistic online game" and "the most comprehensive... MMO military game." Those statements are regularly tested by the community, who question the accuracy of the game's many vehicles on its forum. "War Thunder" fans have a knack for accidentally accessing and ignorantly revealing classified military documents during these discussions on the game's accuracy. According to aeronautics outlet Aerotime Hub, on January 15, 2023, another classified military document was revealed on the "War Thunder" forums.

In a thread centered on the realism of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, a user posted screenshots of documents from the plane's early testing. Within an hour of posting, the user was questioned about the documents' restriction status. As it turns out, the documents were still classified. The screenshots have since been taken down, but it's far from the first time "War Thunder" fans have pushed too far in pursuing realism.

Classified F-16 documents were revealed, and removed, during a discussion on the game's accuracy

In the last few years, numerous instances of leaked classified information have been discovered and revealed by fervent fans of "War Thunder." According to the Washington Post, in 2021, there were three leaks about tank units from Great Britain, China, and France, and last year, classified documents pertaining to a Chinese anti-tank missile were leaked. It's a problem that the game keeps having, but Gaijin Entertainment — which published "War Thunder" — has quickly responded and removed classified content each time.

The user who leaked the documents initially said that the post was protected under Gaijin Entertainment's policies, which prohibit modern military documents and do not reference classified information when designing the game. But Gaijin Entertainment has maintained its stance, as founder Anton Yudintsev told AeroTime, "we forbid our users to share documents like this... we remind our users again and again that it's both illegal and pointless."

"I had no clue about the restricted nature of them and Gaijin has a rule that they allow manuals to be posted from 30 years and over so I assumed incorrectly that it was okay to post," the user told AeroTime. 

It's a weird way to accidentally leak military documents, but it's not the last bit of classified information posted to the "War Thunder" forums. The very next day, a set of classified weapon systems manuals for the F-15E were leaked.