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Employee of flight sim developer arrested for attempting to smuggle jet fighter manuals

Eagle Dynamics, makers of the DCS series, denies it was involved

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The F/A-18C Hornet module for DCS World is on sale now via Steam and directly from Eagle Dynamics.
Eagle Dynamics
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

An employee of Eagle Dynamics, the developer behind flight simulators such as DCS Warthog A-10C and the DCS World series, has been indicted on charges including conspiracy and smuggling. The United States government alleges that Oleg Mikhaylovich Tishchenko, a Russian national, was trying to smuggle U.S. military documents into his home country. His employer says that the charges have nothing to do with his duties at the company, which makes games about modern combat aircraft.

The indictment, currently available to the public online, was originally sealed by a federal judge. It was only recently unsealed after Tishchenko was extradited from Georgia (the country). According to the Standard-Examiner, he’s now sitting in a Utah jail and is considered a flight risk.

The original indictment, provided to Polygon by the U.S. district attorney’s office, is dated June 15, 2016 and contains a detailed account of the allegations. Tishchenko is said to have used the DCS forums to solicit help in acquiring “a series of F-16 A/B Air Defense Fighter (ADF) manuals being sold on eBay.”

United States of America vs. Oleg Mikhaylovich Tishchenko, Kenneth Edward Sullivan by Polygondotcom on Scribd

The sale of these types of materials is restricted by law, specifically the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). For the uninitiated, that’s the same body of law that prevents military contractors and equipment manufacturers from selling an actual F-16 to places like Iran or North Korea. Flight manuals contain information that the military considers operational secrets, so you can’t just ship them out of the country willy nilly to the highest bidder.

The seller apparently knew this, and stated that they were unwilling and unable to ship the items outside of the country. So, Tishchenko allegedly went to the DCS forums to see if anyone in the U.S. could help him out.

It’s the same sort of thing you or I would do to get one of those really rare Funko Pop figures from Star Wars Celebration even if we couldn’t attend. It’s just that this particular Funko Pop shows you how to fly a fighter jet, and this particular convention more or less requires that you not be living in Russia.

Tishchenko allegedly found a willing co-conspirator among the community on the DCS forums. That means Kenneth Edward Sullivan, a Texan, now has his own row to hoe. His part in the matter is still pending, however, since he was able to convince a judge to grant him an 18-month deferral while Tishchenko’s case proceeds.

For its part, Eagle Dynamics is flatly denying that this has anything to do with its line of business. The company is known for hardcore flight simulations that stress realism. For instance, many feel that the best way to learn how to fly the A-10 Warthog tank killer, as portrayed in DCS Warthog A-10C, is the get a former pilot to teach you. Meanwhile, the French air force was recently spotted using DCS World to train pilots of its Mirage 2000 multirole fighter.

DCS is poised for a big release this year, specifically the upcoming DCS: F-16C Block 50 module for DCS World. Many consider it the spiritual successor to the legendary Falcon 4.0, developed by Mircroprose and published in 1998.

The Company launched an internal investigation into the actions of its employee, and found nothing in the company’s records that relates to the facts that are being held against him. The investigation confirmed in particular that no company resources were used and that no export restricted documents were obtained or stored within the company’s systems. Furthermore, the Company confirms that the employee was not involved in any of the work or research pertaining to the development of the Company’s upcoming F-16 module.

The full statement, made by senior producer Matt Wagner, is available on the DCS forums. Reached for comment, Wagner was unable to provide any additional statements.

The DCS: F-16C Block 50 module for DCS World does not have a release date. Other recent releases include DCS: F/A-18C Hornet and DCS: F-14 Tomcat.

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