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Classified specs leaked on War Thunder forum for third time


This is the sixth (possibly seventh) time according to the game's subreddit

> 1. Something about the eurocopter tiger was leaked

> 2. The Challenger 2 had a leak about the gun or turret rotation

> 3. The more recent Challenger 2 leak about the armor

> 4. A leak about the penetration of the Type 99

> 5. The leak about the Leclerc turret rotation speed

> 6. Now this current leak about a Chinese shell

(with more details scattered in the other comments)


Whilst these are 'classified leaks' they are not exactly strategic leaks. Right now we're seeing a lot of real truth's play out in Ukraine about just how great armored vehicles and tanks are.

Most of the above seem more in the realm of commercial in confidence leaks, and or embarrassing information for a military than anything that's significant.


> Whilst these are 'classified leaks' they are not exactly strategic leaks.

Just to expand on the multiple levels of classification a bit. In the UK we have multiple levels, as per the Govt's own open source description [0]: official, secret and top secret. Official is sometimes give the caveat 'sensitive' which corresponds to the old 'restricted'. The level 'confidential' isn't used officially now.

At the risk of massive over-simplification, the lowest levels of classification might be used to describe 'how' something works (so that it can be easily read by users in training), while higher levels might describe how well it works, vulnerabilities, etc.



I think it is more that the public is becoming a third observer in military matters (as in all government and commercial matters).

The point is not that "omg the US Army knows our internal penetration specs (#)" but more "omg the public knows." But this could be an advantage for militaries - leak enough of this, guide enough games designers in the right way and build a groundswell of support for ... well modelled, arms improvements and upgrades.

You should probably also model the value of having the parts of a weapon manufactured in 49 states in 49 factories rather than say one. And see how you can get public support to chnage that

in general I am saying that this game provides a well informed public. seems like a good thing. except if you like corruption

(#) The CIA already told them. right now there is probably a spy in washington trying to work out how to say "yes, we spent 15 million dollars obtaining the specs on the Chinese shell last month, but how were we supposed to know ..."


I think it won't be too hard.

"We invested 15 million into our network of spies in China, we have another bit of evidence that it works. And anyway it was only 15 million, pocket change for the MIC."


Not to turn this into a military strategy thread but....

There is something to be said for highly mobile anti-armor weapons in possession of the defending force, but there is ample evidence that Russia simply does not have enough manpower to use its tanks properly.

* There are many cases in which a three-crew tank is manned by two people (there is no commander).

* They don't seem to have enough cannon fodder to act as a filtering force - the perimeter around armor to make sure they are not targeted with standoff weapons.

The reports of the tank's death are greatly exaggerated.


Not to mention the ongoing proliferation of active protection systems — the Trophy APS[0] is a truly impressive[1] piece of technology.

- [0]:

- [1]:


Unfortunately, most classified stuff is like that. It’s a lot of e.g. boring specs of things you wouldn’t care about if you saw it.

The actual interesting stuff is more rare than Mr. Clean with hair.


The challenge of classified info is that you don't know what knowledge a potential attacker has. This is why so many things that seem either obvious or irrelevant can end up on the classified list.

Sure, details on the tungsten penetrator by themselves may be either semi-obvious or worthless (wow, it's a round that penetrates things. Shocking a tank would carry such a weapon!). But the Chinese don't know if their potential opponents in the field know something about, say, the quality of tungsten China industry can access, or if they could extrapolate something about the operation of the main gun itself from the reported penetration numbers on the tungsten round.

This is why classification tends to be a wider net than seems necessary.


> It’s a lot of e.g. boring specs of things you wouldn’t care about if you saw it.

Boring to most, maybe. But understanding the design of a shell or understanding the capabilities of a tank turret can inform armor design and battlefield tactics respectively.


Whilst these are 'classified leaks' they are not exactly strategic leaks.

> Right now we're seeing a lot of real truth's play out in Ukraine about just how great armored vehicles and tanks are.

We're seeing "a lot of real truth's play out in Ukraine," but a lot of that seems to be about Russian organization and tactics, not necessarily "how great armored vehicles and tanks are."

For instance: early in the war I read some (US Marine Corps?) study that was online about the Russian "Battalion Tactical Group" that noted some deficiencies that may have made them far more vulnerable in Ukraine (IIRC too many tanks, too little infantry and support troops, too centralized command and control). My understanding is that it's been essential for a long time that tanks travel with significant infantry support.

> Most of the above seem more in the realm of commercial in confidence leaks, and or embarrassing information for a military than anything that's significant.

The one about the Chinese projectile seems like it could be pretty bad. Wouldn't that be the exact kind of technical information an opponent would want to design armor or develop the right tactics for it? For instance, if you increase your side's armor to neutralize it, then your tanks can fight more aggressively.


Not quite, because without the exact composition and design of the projectile you can't know for sure what is necessary unless your armor is made purely of rolled homogenous steel.




> Right now we're seeing a lot of real truth's play out in Ukraine about just how great armored vehicles and tanks are.

Was watching a video, of a guy basically explaining that tanks may be becoming less of a focus in modern armies, as new weapons and tactics easily counter them.

I guess it’s kinda like when Calvary first started to fall from its throne in warfare, due to new advancements in infantry tactics.


> a guy basically explaining that tanks may be becoming less of a focus in modern armies, as new weapons and tactics easily counter them.

Tanks will probably reduce in focus given their massive expense vs. the countermeasures but the Russian's tank losses have arisen partly because of their massive tactical incompetence and can't in themselves be taken to mean that tanks are now useless. Tanks work best when used in combined arms ops, with supporting infantry, artillery and air.

Sending columns of tanks in single file down main roads and then getting them blown up is basically the plot of "A Bridge Too Far", a.k.a Operation Market Garden in WW2, when the Allies tried to quickly cross multiple bridges into Germany, and discovered the hard way that only the tanks at the front can actually fight, and that if they get stuck, so do all of the others. Obviously the Russian commanders didn't watch this classic film when it was repeated on Sunday afternoon TV.

[Edit] That said, I wouldn't necessarily choose AFV crew if I was picking a job in an Army.


They won't. Armchair generals think that massive losses of tanks would mean that they are going away. In real life it does not mean that. In ww2 Soviet lost 76% of all tanks they produces during the war, 83,500. And they still choose a tank focued strategic doctrine after this fact during the cold war, and they knew better than anyone else how many tank losses they suffered during ww2.

So this war, the Yom Kippur, the Syria war, they have no news regarding tank losses. Tanks were never designed to be invulnerable, and their losses have never meant that they don't work. The Soviet and the Russians knows this. The west think that tank's will survive battle fields, but from a historical point of view that is a delusion. Tanks are still the least bad choice, they are faster and hit harder than infantry, which if you think AFV have it though against drone corrected artillery, infantry is a sheit site worse.


There's a ton of minor pundits writing this lazy take. It's not a particularly compelling argument.

We've known tanks in open terrain and without infantry screening are very vulnerable to ATGMs since the Yom Kippur war. We've also seen recent examples of the same in Syria and Yemen.

A tank's utility doesn't rely upon it being somehow uncountable. We know tons of things counter tanks. But the combination of mobility, protection against shrapnel and heavy machine gun fire, and a big gun that can cheaply hit fortifications, while utterly obliterating any other armored vehicle around that's not an MBT, isn't going away any time soon.

What we're seeing is instead an increment in a long standing race between offense and defense. Reactive armor swung things towards the defense for a bit. Tandem charges and top attack munitions swung it back. Now Active Protection Systems are dragging it back the defense direction.


You had such a chance to say "first started to fall from its saddle..."


"I guess it’s kinda like when Calvary first started to fall from its throne ..."

I hope it is useful and interesting for you know:

Calvary is where Christ died.

Cavalry are the guys on horses.


I really don't think that's a good comparison, cavalry didn't just fall from grace because they became easily slaughtered by infantry, they stopped being used because their role became irrelevant and were replaced. The role tanks play has not become irrelevant and while they aren't as survivable as they used to be they aren't nearly as vulnerable as clips from UA seem to imply.

I'd recommend this video by a former Abrams commander and tank historian who presents this argument far better than I can.


I don't think so, you will always need what tanks bring to the battlefield, it is just that the ratios may shift.

simplified to absurdity it is a sort of rock paper scissors situation.

The most economical way to project force is with infantry. the best defense from infantry are machine guns. The best offense against machine guns are armored vehicles(tanks). the most economical defense from tanks are man portable anti-tank weapons. and we have come full circle, the most economical offense to portable anti-tank weapons are infantry.

So the trick is to have your combat mix to the correct ratio.


Nearly all NATO equipment was made to fight against russian armor. Now we see its effectivenes.

I think it is quite clear that all strategy and tactics are done by US/NATO generals who tell the Ukrainian army what to do - since NATO has all its spy satelites/systems that track phones/various classified stuff pointed on the area.

And think that Trump wanted USA to leave NATO. Talk about russian assets..


I don't think leaks need to have strategic implications to be significant. I'm no expert but the information on armor and APFSDS could have meaningful impacts on the survivability of a tank. Or maybe all of this is common knowledge that every relevant actor has aquired through HUMINT, who knows.


For all of the things you would find in user manuals (that operators are trained against), then yes, one would imagine such info is commonly known.

As far as I am aware, all of the information "leaked" has been of this kind (the leakers have mostly been operators!).


As a non-player. I'm confused by how and why they are getting leaked? First the how.

Are players just stumbling on this stuff through internet sleuthing? I'm sure anyone with clearance to view said documents would not be leaking them on an Tank Game Forum.

Now as to the why. Barring some sort of intelligence/counterintelligence work (conspiracy theory territory but you never know), why would this stuff get leaked? I would assume it's players wanting a more accurate experience?

My theory is it's just hardcore players/mod makers that want to mimics every real life detail of the real tanks. The info being leaked has likely already been "leaked" but somewhere not as visible as the WarThunder forums, so we only hear about it when it pops up there.


> I'm sure anyone with clearance to view said documents would not be leaking them on an Tank Game Forum.

Out of everyone in the population, who do you think is most likely to be a hardcore player/mod maker for WarThunder? Is it:

(A) John Teenager, taking a gap year to play video games and scour double-digit pages on Bing for details on new tanks, stumbling across mailing lists and unsecured Slack channels from third-party suppliers

(B) James Bond, foreign counterintelligence operative who hacked into the DoD and forgot which specs were public and which ones he only knew from his hacking efforts

(C) GI Joe, tank maintenance tech, who just really likes tanks, so much so that he got a job working on them and plays video games that involve tanks in his spare time.

I'm a controls engineer and programmer, and yeah, some of my hobbies involve my experience; I'm pretty skilled with Arduinos, 3D printers, and Minecraft redstone. Is an Arduino sketch that drives a stepper using the same set of signals as a brand-new, NDAed, proprietary Fanuc servodrive a problem in the same way classified specs for a military tank a problem? Not really, anyone who knows about servos would build the same basic API but that's the order of encoder values, commanded positions, acceleration/velocity/travel limits, and home/limit switches etc. that I'm familiar with, so why not?


Don’t underestimate the butthurt of a nerd trying to win an online argument. I think for one of the challenger leaks the dude was trying to win a stupid forum argument


The Techspot article on this goes into a bit more detail on the other leaks ( but generally yes, it's people with clearance who are players of the game and want to get something in game corrected to be more like reality.


> it's people with clearance who are players of the game and want to get something in game corrected to be more like reality.

While i get the good intentions here, this is shockingly short sighted for players (with classified access) to be doing this.


Milsim nerds can be incredibly particular and either end up having access to such documents through their work, or merely find and post documents they come across online. The struggle to win an online argument can result in a shocking amount of research fueled on nothing by pettiness and bitter nerd-rage tears.

Example about the availability of publicly available classified information: During the time when the Wikileaks stuff was first starting, Military personnel were instructed not to read articles or even headlines about Wikileaks, because they might contain classified information. Given that there would then be an issue with "need to know", reading the newspaper could inadvertently cause one to violate policy, and in turn require the violator to file a report on the matter. Rather than deal with however many reports, people were simply given a lawful order: Do not read any information pertaining to the subject.

Anyway, back to the point about nerds: If a guy is attempting to rotate the turret of a tank he spent 1.5 years grinding to get, and he knows that in real life his turret should rotate at a certain speed, but in game it actually takes longer to turn, and he dies as a result, the chance of him whining about it online is probable. Rinse and repeat this a few hundred times, and cost him potentially 10-20 million Silver Lions (free in-game currency) in repair costs, lost battles, etc. then you better believe he's going to get really salty about it. He's either going to say some things he shouldn't be saying (unlikely, but not impossible), or, he's going to find and link to documents that shouldn't be publicly available.

In turn, other nerds will notice this, report it due to the policies around classified information. Eventually it becomes a big to-do about something that was already accessible, but not necessarily well known.


AFAIK none of these leaks have come from those sorts of sources, they're from tank crewmen publishing classified docs for their own tanks


It’s funny to think that the purported justification for the order against reading Wikileaks news was actually believed by anyone who heard it.

“Don’t read this - it’s for your own good! Just reading it could cause you to have to report against yourself! No really!”

Total rubbish of course.


As a Warthunder player myself, that is basically the reason. Most players like the game to be as realistic as possible, and some players really like a specific nation. When they see a vehicle under-performing, they try to dig up data and documents confirming so, which is then passed to the developers.

Problem is, for modern vehicles a lot of this info is classified, but some players seem to be persistent enough to get that info and try to use it.


There's a really great writeup of one incident on Reddit:


The question that randomly comes to mind from this is "is it proper to refer to a sabot-mounted solid penetrator as a "shell"? I always thought a shell was strictly used to refer to hollow projectiles?


For those interested in the actual image>


That's a really interesting design, as it looks like it was inspired by metal broaching tools where each of those rings acts like a cutter to slightly enlarge the hole made by the ring before it.

It makes sense that a penetrator would use that technique as it's designed to clear the chip debris, as opposed to trying to deform the bulk hardened material, allowing far easier penetration and perhaps more energy transfer to the inside of the target.


In the diagram behind the tungsten penetrator, only the part of the penetrator that contacts the sabot has rings on it, while the rest of the projectile is drawn as smooth. The rings might have something to do with helping the sabot separate from the projectile correctly or preventing the projectile from slipping out of the sabot before it leaves the barrel.


Is this particularly sensitive? Are anti-tank rounds that cutting-edge?


Yes, while the basic mechanics aren't particularly sensitive in 2022. The exact details with regards to range, penetrating power, accuracy, weight are.

Given this information an adversary can adjust tactics to engage at a range that's more optimal for their rounds, recognize that they should use alternate longer range strikes, or devise long term mitigations.

Given that all of the above actions are expensive, it's a lot easier to take them when you have the exact specs. The problem is even worse with air to air missiles where pilots can be trained to counter most missiles if they have the exact performance characteristics.


So if you release fake specs understating your stats you get enemies coming into range for free ?


a huge portion of classified/sensitive material is not all that interesting/cutting edge. But if you'd rather an adversary not know it, or it could potentially be exploited then it'll be marked classified.


Not particularly, CCTV7 documentary on Type 99A tank quoted the significant numbers a couple years ago.




> WarThunder forum moderators quickly removed the post, adding “Materials related to the DTC10-125 are classified in China”.

Realistically speaking, what's the worst that could happen if they let the images stay? Unlike previous leaks which featured western military diagrams, I don't believe that there would be repercussions for disregarding Chinese law.


The game has a chinese publisher. There's no way this would be accepted by Tencent.


You incur the wrath of the CCP cyber units. If they wanted, they could ddos all the servers into oblivion indefinitely.


That's not necessary.

> Tencent’s online censorship team is led by the CCP’s Deputy Party Secretary.


Tencent is their publisher in china.


Being banned in China, the largest video game market.


If I were the PLA and wanted to scare western military analysts about Chinese hardware, I'd leak some tuned up specs in the War Thunder forums....


Is it a better strategy to have your combat opponent underestimate, or overestimate your specs?


There's an interesting example of exactly this in missile development. Russia over-estimated the capabilities of a generation of the Sidewinder missile and built their equivalent to match what they thought it must contain, and as a result had a more advanced design for a while.

Similar story with the Buran: they over-estimated the Space Shuttle's military capabilities on the assumption that the true intended mission profiles were being hushed up and ended up with a fully automated exoatmospheric nuclear bomber.

So it's a dodgy strategy if it's intentional: you've got to bet that your opponent will run out of cash before they can field the superweapons you've made them build; or that once built they won't be able to afford enough of them to make a difference.


The F-15 was way ahead of any other fighter jet for years because someone managed to convince whoever was paying that the MiG-25 was a super plane (it really wasn’t)


> Russia over-estimated the capabilities of a generation of the Sidewinder missile and built their equivalent to match what they thought it must contain

No. The K-13/AA-2 Atoll is a literal copy of an AIM-9 reverse-engineered from an example captured by the Chinese.


From the Art of War:

All warfare is based on deception.

Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.


Depends whether your goal is to get what you want without fighting, or to win a fight.


Getting what you want without fighting is winning the fight.



You want to make your opponent to vastly overestimate your power where you are in fact weak so they don't even try it and underestimate your clear advantages so if they get any funny ideas they'll get their ass kicked.


I think the goal is the specs are different enough to assume different capabilities.

Whether a gun fires faster or slower isn’t good or bad, it just drives how it’s used.


I'd guess it's always a weakness if you mispredict the other side's performance, whatever the circumstance.


None of this is scary though…


How do we know those are classified specs and not counter intel?


These leaks are usually just a photo of a page of the booklet all the soldiers get with their weapon systems. I had dozens of them, and they were not considered particularly sensitive (e.g. dont care if you lose them).

Is it classified? Yes. Is it bad? Probably not.


Yeah something that’s handed out to troops is assumed to be in all potential adversaries’ possession.


I know someone here in the UK who signed the official secrets act (terminology wrong but you get me) and it was made intimidatingly (I use that word precisely) clear to them that blabbing had bad consequences. I'm sure it's the same or worse elsewhere, so this all looks odd. Could it possibly be a somewhat plausible way to release helpful (mis)information? It just seems so odd otherwise.


Milsim flame wars can get pretty brutal, this happens semi-regularly and developers have to harshly police their forums for it. Public docs are frequently used as reference material for these arguments and every once in a while someone forgets OPSEC and publishes something that is open within the military but not approved for public release


Signing the official secrets act is a thing, you don't actually sign anything, at least for jobs I'm aware of (in the UK Civil Service), but your job is predicated on agreement to be bound by it's terms. In the act they call it notification, but you can be guilty of someone leaks to you and 'you should have known' not to disclose it.


That's very informative, thanks.


Not really new info, "leak" verifies stats posted on PRC military programming on CCTV a couple years ago. Lots of PRC military content out there for open source intel to collect, but not many foreign analyst with language skills to bother.


So what is the deal here? Was this information previously not available on the net? Is this Information that got leaked for the first time?


Basically actual military people play the game too (just like how commercial pilots play flight sims as a past time).

The devs go as close to real as possible but of course with still in-service vehicles that’s not always possible.

So sometimes people leak classified information. I think it comes down to:

1, bragging and forum debates going to heated (I know this info!)

2, actually helping the devs

3, “being a gamer” = this vehicle is weak but I actually know it’s more powerful so I prove it


It’s literally the military version of People can’t help it lol


Or Cunningham’s law. ("The best way to get the right answer on the internet is not to ask a question; it's to post the wrong answer.")


4. Controlled leaks/misinformation




Maybe they're trying to establish themselves as a place to leak military secrets.


Access to that particular material and that particular doc might allow the set of possibilities around a suspected spy to be reduced until there is only one person in it.


The information was previously available on the net and was accepted by consensus for most of the PLA watching community, but there was no really hard evidence.


the latter, people really can't stand to lose internet arguments :)


Amusing, although the previous situations involving manuals and etc I think are hardly serious leaks considering how plentiful a service manual might be.

I gotta think once you hand out some classified material to X number of people, just as a policy you gotta assume the opposing folks know about it, even if just due to mishandling / human error.


Who cares? Governments classify just about anything and everything they legally can by default. It is a CYA move and there isn't a lot of thought put into it. If something needs to be public they figure they can always declassify it. The chances of any of this info actually mattering are miniscule.


I find it amusing a British publication is going out of its way to obscure Chinese military secrets by blurring the image. Exactly who do they think they're helping?


They aren't helping. They are trying to not anger too much.