Home / News / India /  IAF plans air combat game in bid to woo youth, shore up its ranks

New Delhi: he Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to launch its own mobile-based air combat game on Wednesday as it seeks to capitalize on the online gaming boom and attract more youth in its ranks to shore up its depleted manpower.

The game, which will be launched by IAF chief Birender Singh Dhanoa, will be offered on Android and iOS devices. Players flying aircraft could get control of the planes through touch controls or on-screen buttons. The game features anti-aircraft guns to shoot down incoming enemy aircraft, or to destroy enemy radars.

Ahead of the launch, the IAF issued a teaser on 20 July through a Twitter post, which has received strong response. It has so far garnered over 43,600 views, while the Twitter post has been liked more than 7,000 times and re-tweeted nearly 2,000 times.

A sharp increase in internet penetration and low-cost data prices, besides the large base of millennials is fuelling a surge in gaming in India. The number of Indians who play online games has shot up from 20 million in 2010 to 250 million by 2018, according to a KPMG and Google report. By 2021, India’s gaming market is expected to earn revenues worth nearly $340 million, according to a Frost and Sullivan estimate.

Besides state-of-the art Sukhois, Mi-17 helicopters and a mid-air refueling tanker, the teaser of the game features a character resembling IAF wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman, whose MiG-21 Bison fighter jet was shot down by Pakistan on 27 February, after Pakistan launched an air raid in retaliation to India bombing a terrorist training camp in Balakot. Abhinandan was held captive in Pakistan for almost 60 hours before he was released on 1 March. His act of shooting down a Pakistani Air Force jet before being shot down himself had won him legions of admirers in India—something that probably prompted the IAF to introduce the character who sports Abhinandan’s trademark moustache.

As of now, the game will be available in single player mode, but the IAF has plans to launch a multi-player mode soon.

With the game, the IAF would be aiming to attract more youth to join the armed forces, considering that there is a shortage of officers and other personnel.

The air force has 12,142 officers as on 1 June, against a sanctioned strength of 12,625, a shortage of 483 officers, minister of state for defence Shripad Naik said in a written reply to a lawmaker’s query in Lok Sabha on 24 July.

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