Back in December, an independent developer and avid War Thunder player named ‘ElBerto’ shared some unfortunate information with his fellow fans. He accidentally uploaded to his public Google Drive a classified document describing United States military doctrine and technology. This document, which was published by Der Spiegel, was described as such: “Military planners are working to include war game technology in real-world scenarios. They are reportedly working on a digital ‘artillery shell’ that would digitally simulate the flight of a projectile, causing it to explode on impact with any desired target, even if it was at a considerable distance.

It’s one of those news stories that just gets worse with every passing update. On one side you have a computer programmer, who accidentally put classified US military documents online, allowing the document’s contents to be downloaded by anyone. On the other side you have the US military, which is trying to find out who put the files online, and how it could be possible to leak such sensitive information online.

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No, it isn’t an Onion-style parody; we do, after all, live in a society that is so shamelessly dumb that humor is dying a slow death. An active member of the UK military and a fan of the online military vehicular battler War Thunder apparently had some thoughts on how the game’s version of the Challenger 2 tank fell short of its real-life counterpart, and he used images from an official Army Equipment Support Publication (AESP) for the tank to make his case. However, since this handbook has not been declassified, the user has essentially broken military law.

Gaijin Entertainment got formal confirmation from the UK Ministry of Defense, confirming the AESP’s sensitive nature and warning that breaching the Official Secrets Act may result in the user receiving up to 14 years in jail. The studio was also informed that continuing to spread the AESP may endanger its employees, resulting in a major cleaning of the thread in question.

Gaijin’s response on whether the details would be utilized in-game is unsurprising: “There is no legitimate source material that can be utilised.” As a result, no change will occur. Our position on source material has been made quite clear.”

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