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Classified Docs Leaked for More Realistic Tanks

By: Brayden Yin

Video games often lead to fights. Players throw controllers, argue about cheating, and hurl insults at one another. However, on an online gaming forum, a debate about tanks heated up to the point where players posted classified documents related to national security, just to win arguments with other players.

War Thunder is a free, popular, vehicular-war video-game; and players, starting in 2021, posted classified information about three tanks with British, French, and Chinese origins, in an online chat forum that is dedicated to the game. Posting the documents was reported by UK Defense Journal, who said that one poster uploaded a manual for the British “Challenger 2” tank. The poster said that he was motivated by a desire for the developer of War Thunder to create a more realistic, accurate tank in the game. Another poster on the website, who claimed to be a soldier in a French tank unit, uploaded the manual for the “Leclerc S2” while in an online debate about that tank’s turret rotation speed. Another user posted material about the Chinese DTC10-125 tank, but his motivations weren’t clear.

All the posts were removed by Gaijin Entertainment, the game’s producer and the host of the online forum. Tank experts said that the documents, before they were removed, were not of value to countries that are hostile to the countries whose tank information were leaked. Sonny Butterworth is a senior analyst for land platforms at Janes, a defense-intelligence company.

He said that “If publications keep getting leaked, something that looks innocuous could be quite important to someone who knows what to look for.” The Chinese, British, and French governments hadn’t contacted Gaijin Entertainment about the issue, and spokespersons from the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense, the U.S. National Security Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.K. Ministry of Defense all declined to comment.


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