The classified document, which revealing data about British main battle tanks, has been leaked online.
On July 16, 2021, UK Defence Journal reported that a gamer identifying as Challenger 2 commander has posted a classified document online in order to improve the accuracy of the design of the tank in the free-to-play game “War Thunder”.
According to a report, 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 posted the classified document to have an issue with the in-game design of the vehicle rectified.
“Linking those screenshots with the following edited image from the AESP’s which is meant to show the relationship of the various components. The image isn’t exactly to scale as its only meant to show the position of components relative to each other but it works for the point I’m trying to make here. The trunnion’s sit centrally of the rotor. The trunnions support the rotor in the turret structure and the GCE sub components as previously stated are all mounted to the rotor.”
In turn, the developers of the online game reported that they refused to deal with the apparently classified documents.
“Before any discussion, handling or bug reports are even made, proof of this documents declassification will be required as well as where it was sourced form. 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 available and fully declassified with the rights to prove that.”
Additionally, a forum moderator posted:
“We have written confirmation from MoD that this document remains classified. By continuing to disseminate it you are in violation of the Official Secrets Act as stated by the warning on the cover of the document, an offence which can carry up to a 14 year prison sentence if prosecuted. Of this you are already aware, as a service person you have signed a declaration that you understand the act and what actions it compels you to take. Every time you post this you place us (International representatives of Gaijin), especially any UK citizens, in hot water as the warning so helpfully states that unauthorised retention of a protected document is an offence.”