Accuracy at Any Cost? Gamer Leaks British Military Secrets to Russia-born Company to Prove its Tank Model is Wrong
A funny and potentially criminal episode unfolded this week on the forums of 'War Thunder', a popular competitive video game in which players take control of various real-life military vehicles. Projects like this one attract the attention of accuracy nerds, who push designers to get every little detail right.
It seems one such person may have breached the UK Official Secrets Act, by leaking a portion of the still-classified manual for the Challenger 2 main battle tank. On Wednesday, the user posted on the forum a link to excerpts from a Challenger 2 AESP (Army Equipment Support Publication) as he argued his point to developers.
The alleged leak was reported by the UK Defence Journal on Friday. The military-focused website said the poster identifies as a Challenger 2 commander and may be stationed at the Royal Tank Regiment in Tidworth, England.
Forum moderators took issue with the link. The British MoD confirmed to them the classified status of the manual, prompting the link's removal and a warning that disseminating the excerpts "can carry up to a 14-year prison sentence if prosecuted." Some users said they hoped the in-game model of the vehicle would still be fixed, but others pointed out that the game's designers refuse to use reference materials that are not legally available to the public.
Classified Challenger Tank Specs Leaked Online for Videogame
A user identifying as a Challenger 2 commander posted specific excerpts from a Challenger 2 AESP (Army Equipment Support Publication, sort of like a user manual) to show game developers that they "didn't model it correctly".
The user identifies as a make[sic] in Tidworth with a history of "Tanks & AFV's, CR2 Tank Commander, AFV Instr, D&M Instr, Gunnery Instr, Former ATDU". It should be noted that Tidworth is home to the Royal Tank Regiment who operate Challenger 2 tanks.
Anyway, it is understood that the excerpts from the document had their 'UK RESTRICTED' label crossed out and a stamp of 'UNCLASSIFIED' added, as well as having various parts fully blanked. One forum user remarked that "the cover for instance had basically everything except CHALLENGER 2 blacked out".
[Gamemaker] Gaijin refused to deal with the apparently still classified documents. Saying through through their community manager:
"Before any discussion, handling or bug reports are even made, proof of this documents[sic] declassification will be required as well as where it was sourced form[sic]. If it is declassified, it should be available to the public. Last time such a document was shared that was claimed to be "unclassified" it was in fact still classified and was confirmed that it should never have been shared. We make it very clear that we will not handle any source material unless it is publically[sic] available and fully declassified with the rights to prove that."