The list of export-restricted military documents leaked by players of the popular free-to-play game War Thunder just got longer. The flight manual for the F-117 Nighthawk, a stealth aircraft manufactured by Lockheed Martin, was posted on the War Thunder official site forum, a place for community discussion about various War Thunder related topics like in-game strategy, proposed game changes, and, over the past few years, occasionally classified military documents. The leaked flight manual included lots of information about F-117 flight sensor locations, firing angles, and many other intricacies.
A Consistent Issue
Oddly enough, this isn’t the first time War Thunder forum moderators have had to remove forum posts on the basis of them including military-classified content. On the topic of the F-117 flight manual leak, the head of PR for War Thunder’s developer Gaijin Entertainment, Konstantin Govorun, confirmed that their “moderators quickly nuked the post, deleted the files and banned the user. This is probably 12th time this happens.”
The History of War Thunder Leaks
The first leak relating to War Thunder and classified military documents, according to Wikipedia, was of the Challenger 2 tank and its armor structure. Following classified documents leaked by users consisted of specifications of many different tanks, fighter jets, and helicopters, most of which had the export-restricted classification level. In each case, posts containing the sensitive information were deleted and users were subsequently warned. Many of the leaks weren’t intended to be malicious, either. Most of them were posted in order to settle arguments about in-game content, a sort of “I-told-you-so” card that’s been pulled several times based on the numerous incidents.
The Leclerc Leaks
In the example of the document leak involving the French Leclerc tank, from October 2021, the documents were posted on the forum in order to resolve an argument about turret rotation speed.
The poster of the documents claimed to a crew member on the Leclerc S2, which at the time was fielded by the French Army. The post itself was removed within a few hours in accordance with Gaijins strict moderation policy. In response to the recent leaks, a spokesperson for the US Air Force stated that the government “has urged companies to avoid allowing the distribution of information that is detrimental to public safety and national security.” The number of times that the leaks have occurred points to a larger issue here, and could be happening for a number of reasons, but the biggest takeaway from this ongoing issue is that it’s absolutely necessary to check if a document is classified or export restricted before sharing it with others.
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