To beat the global trend of declining enrollment in armed forces-especially as political volatility rises-nations are looking at innovative ways to attract those well suited to a career in defence. Last year, India reported a significant shortfall in armed forces recruitment. Against a sanctioned strength of 50,028 and 11,415, there were only 42,734 officers in the army, and 9,925 officers in the Navy, respectively. Indian Air Force, however, performed better with 12,392 officers as against the sanctioned strength of 12,584 officers. Now, IAF has come out with an innovative approach for attracting talent, with its newly launched flight simulator mobile game "IAF- A cut above the rest."
The game starts with a tutorial of flight training, followed by ten single-player missions. The player gets to fly helicopters on a rescue mission, and engage in combat with the enemy. Although the game still lacks features such as multiplayer capabilities, it has been downloaded over a million times on PlayStore. And, with more updates and missions expected in the future, it should get more downloads. More important, what IAF has underlined is the ability to understand India's youth. For a generation that is hooked to their mobile phones, and is playing games like PUBG and Fortnite, IAF has undoubtedly taken the right call. The US Navy reported higher enlistments after the release of the movie Top Gun in 1986. In fact, according to an LA Times report, recruiters had set up booths outside movie halls to tap into the fervour the movie generated. With the IAF asking for an email address-a first-step towards taking engagement with the youth beyond just the game-this may be its Top Gun moment.