Marshal of Indian Air Force, Arjan Singh Passes Away (Download PDF)


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The Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh passed away at Army Hospital (R&R), New Delhi at 98. Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh, DFC lead the Air Force when he was only 44 years old. He was the Chief of IAF in the year 1965 in the war.

Image of Commissioned Ranks

Image of Commissioned Ranks

Image of Commissioned Ranks

  • Arjan Singh was born on 15th April 1919, in Lyalpur of undivided Punjab.

  • Completed his education from Montgomery and in 1938 got selected for the Empire Pilot training course at RAF Cranwell, at only 19 years.

  • His first posting involved flying Westland Wapiti biplanes in the North Western Frontier Province as a member of the No. 1 IAF Squadron against the tribal forces before being transferred with the newly formed No. 2 IAF Squadron later moving back to No. 1 Sqn as a Flying Officer with the Hawker Hurricane.

  • Promoted to the rank of Squadron Leader in 1944 and flew close missions during Imphal Campaign assisting the advance of the allied forces to Rangoon, Burma.

  • For his role in successfully leading the squadron during combat, Arjan Singh received the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1944.

  • On 15 August 1947, he lead the fly-past of more than a hundred IAF aircraft over the Red Fort in Delhi.

  • Immediately after independence, he took over the command of Air Force Station, Ambala, in the rank of Group Captain.

  • In 1949, after promotion to the rank of Air Commodore, Arjan Singh took over as the Air Officer Commanding of Operational Command, which later came to be known as the Western Air Command.

  • Arjan Singh had the longest tenure as the AOC of Operational Command, from 1949 - 1952 and again from 1957 - 1961.

  • Promoted to Air Vice Marshal, he was the AOC-in-C of Operational Command.

  • Towards the end of the 1962 war, he was appointed as the Deputy Chief of Air Staff and became the Vice Chief of Air Staff by 1963.

  • On 01 August 1964, Arjan Singh took over as the Chief of Air Staff (CAS) in the rank of Air Marshal.

  • Arjan Singh was the first Air Chief who kept his flying category till his CAS rank with having flown over 60 different types of aircraft from Pre-Second World War era biplanes to Gnats & Vipers

Role in 1965 Pakistan War

Image of Arjan Singh (Role in 1965 Pakistan War)

Image of Arjan Singh (Role in 1965 Pakistan War)

Image of Arjan Singh (Role in 1965 Pakistan War)

  • In September 1965 Pakistan launched Operation Grand Slam with armored thrust targeted the vital town of Akhnur

  • Air Force struck the Pakistani offensive in an hour- He led the IAF through the war showing unparalleled leadership.

  • Arjan Singh was awarded the Padma Vibhushan for his leadership during the 1965 War and subsequently the rank of the CAS was upgraded to that of Air Chief Marshal.

  • Arjan Singh became the first Air Chief Marshal of the Indian Air Force.

  • He retired in July 1969, thereupon accepting ambassadorship to Switzerland.

  • He remained a flyer till the end of his tenure in the IAF, visiting forward squadrons & units and flying with them.

  • In recognition of his services, the Government of India conferred the rank of the Marshal of the Air Force to Arjan Singh in January 2002 making him the first and the only ‘Five Star’ rank officer of the Indian Air Force.

  • In 2016 Air Force Station, Panagarh was renamed as Air Force Station Arjan Singh.

- Published/Last Modified on: September 28, 2017


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