You may remember that one of the funniest stories of 2022 was the way that players of War Thunder—an arcadey online shooter featuring real military vehicles—just kept on posting military documents in the game’s forums. Not as acts of espionage, but to win arguments about specs.
I am incredibly happy to report, then, that this is shaping up to be one of 2023’s funniest stories as well.
The last time we checked in on these guys it was some tank players, who despite ban after ban just kept on sharing detailed, classified information on currently-operational Main Battle Tanks and their armaments.
This week we’ve seen a similar thing happen, only now it’s about fighter aircraft. As Massively OP report, earlier this week a player “shared military documents related to the F-16 fighter jet in order to win an argument”. The problem is that those documents, while not designated as classified military documentation like the tank guys’ stuff, was still restricted material “under the jurisdiction of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), a State Department-enforced law that limits disclosure and transmission of US weapons data and information to foreign individuals, including distribution on the internet”. So, not classified, but still not the kind of thing you should be posting in a video game forum.
Then, just a day later, someone else was at it again! This time a different user posted excerpts from over a dozen weapons system manuals for the F-15E. Again, these weren’t classified—indeed they were for systems old enough that they had been declassified—but like I’ve already said, just because something isn’t classified doesn’t mean you can freely post it on internet forums where anyone in the world can see them. So they were deleted as well.
I said this last year but I will say it again now, the fact that a video game’s forums have become one of the greatest opsec hazards of the modern age, just because some dudes want to argue over a weapon’s statistics, is very funny.