In a bizarre turn of events, online gaming enthusiasts leaked several pages from a manual for the US-built M2A2 AIFV to the War Thunder forums as part of a heated discussion about the precise technical details of their favourite military tech, RT news agency reported on Friday. War Thunder is a free-to-play combat multiplayer game that allows players to battle each other using historical and modern military hardware. Many of its fans are obsessed with accuracy and press the game’s designers to get every detail exactly right, often supporting their arguments with restricted materials.
The leak included two pages of the manual, detailing the commander’s hatch as well as the turret and spall liner assemblies down to every bolt and nut. The gamers leaked the details during discussions about the game developed by Gaijin Entertainment, a Budapest-based company with distinct Russian origins. “There was a post containing classified or restricted information regarding Bradley on December 12th,” the company’s founder, Anton Yudintsev, confirmed in a statement provided to PC Gamer on Thursday, RT News reported.
However, according to Yudintsev, “This particular leak” did not originate on the War Thunder forums but was floating around various platforms like Reddit and Discord since at least December 8. He claimed that the company is doing its best to swiftly crack down on leakers, claiming that “War Thunder forum is definitely one of the strictest on Earth in that regard.” The moderators deleted the sensitive information “within minutes,” but not before several users had downloaded and shared it with the media.
While not classified as top secret, the technical manual in question contains export-controlled data that should only be accessible by the Pentagon and its contractors. This year alone, War Thunder fans spilled some classified beans on the AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter, the F-117 Nighthawk, the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the F-15E Strike Eagle. Previous disclosures involved France’s Leclerc and British Challenger-2 tanks, as well as Chinese DTC10-125 anti-armor shells. In total, over the years, gamers have shared classified and sensitive info on at least 14 separate occasions, according to Task & Purpose.