The free-to-play military simulator War Thunder is taken incredibly seriously by its playerbase, some might say too seriously, and in recent years has been in the headlines again, and again, and again for one reason: players getting in arguments over the specifications of a given vehicle, until one produces actual real-world classified documents about it. Presumably in triumph. These documents tend to be highly protected—literally classified—and militaries understandably don't want the specs of their hardware floating around on the internet. So you'll never guess what's happened, again.
Well, at least this time it wasn't an argument. One player was especially keen to see the Eurofighter Typhoon added to the game, and thought they'd help the developers along… by posting a 730-page manual for the Eurofighter Typhoon DA7 on the forums, one of the jet's prototypes. "[It] contains EVERYTHING on all the systems, weaponry, flight data, etc," they cheerfully add alongside the Google Drive link. "I hope this data will help the devs add this magnificent jet faster and make it as accurate as possible! Can't wait to fly it in the game!"
A moderator replies within 15 minutes saying "Do not post the DA.7 manuals" and linking to developer Gaijin Entertainment's policy page on classified documents. The document was subsequently scrubbed from the forums with lots of "don't make me tap the sign again" energy.
Ah man, it happened again...Export Restricted documents got leaked on the War Thunder forums, this time for the Eurofighter Typhoon DA7... pic.twitter.com/pjByRUXrcSAugust 29, 2023
As War Thunder leaks go, this is one of the less-illegal kind: The manual is public in NATO countries, though is export restricted for non-NATO countries. As the player who spotted the exchange says, "They were not supposed to be readily sold or distributed, as only 7 pages of the manual state 'NATO UNCLASSIFIED'. The rest states 'NATO RESTRICTED', and then there's also the whole copyright thing that goes into these manuals as well."
Gaijin Entertainment's stance is sensible enough: military documents classified in any way are not allowed, so off the document went, alongside yet more pleas to its fans to please stop posting stuff like this.
"For those not familiar: the Eurofighter Typhoon DA7 was one of two prototype Typhoons evaluated by Italy, the other being DA3," said Burkechron. "Germany had DA1 and DA5, The UK had DA2 and DA4, and Spain had DA6. All served as demonstrators/test aircraft for the Typhoon program."
The thread where this actually happened on the War Thunder forums has now descended into arguing over whether the documents are available publicly (they are), whether they should be (unclear), just how serious the 'Nato restricted' classification is, and of course the posting of memes, including the by-now familiar "0 days since classified information leaked on the War Thunder forums".
It really does never seem to end. In 2021 we reported on an argument about a tank, which resulted in the leak of classified documents, a few months after which it almost unbelievably happened again. Chinese anti-tank rounds? Let's have a look at the documentation. Then the start of this year saw a leak concerning the F16 Fighting Falcon which was followed up two days later by another.