The Nation Remembers the Birth Centenary of Air Marshal Arjan Singh

The Nation Remembers the Birth Centenary of Air Marshal Arjan Singh

The nation today remembered Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh on his birth centenary.

Redoubtable Chief of the Indian Air Force during the 1965 war, World War II hero, post-retirement diplomat, the first Air Force officer to wear five stars, Marshal Arjan Singh remains an Indian legend.


From Pilot at 19 years to Air chief at 45 years, the only Marshal of Indian Air Force, Arjan Singh was a braveheart with a true warrior spirit always held high. The IAF grew with him. He was epitome of military leadership in classical sense and it is, therefore, not surprising that he was honoured with the rank of Air Force Marshal. 

Air Marshal Arjan Singh was born on 15th April 1919 in Lyllapur, Punjab (Now Faisalabad, Pakistan). He hailed from defence background. He was selected for the Empire Pilot training course at Royal Air Force (RAF), Cranwell at the age of only 19. After commissioning from the academy, he was posted to No. 1 Squadron where he flew Westland Wapiti biplanes in the North Western Frontier Province. Singh led No. 1 Squadron, Indian Air Force into command during the Arakan Campaign in 1944. He proved his valour during the Second World War when he faced the Japanese Army while serving as a pilot officer in the British-Indian forces in Burma (now Myanmar). He received the Distinguished Flying Cross for "fearless and exceptional" service in 1944. He commanded the Indian Air Force Exhibition Flight in 1945. On August 15, 1947, he achieved the unique honour of leading a fly-past of over a hundred IAF aircraft over the Red Fort in Delhi. In 1949, he was promoted to the rank of Air Commodore and took over as Air Officer Commanding (AOC) of an operational command, which later came to be known as Western Air Command. Singh had the distinction of having the longest tenure as AOC of an operational base, initially from 1949-1952 and then again from 1957-1961. In 1965, Singh led Operation Grand Slam with an armoured thrust targeted at the vital town of Akhnoor.

Arjan Singh was Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), from 1 August 1964 to 15 July 1969, and was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1965. When appointed as Chief of the Air Staff of the Indian Air Force, he was just about 45. He has been the only Chief of the Air Staff to have headed the Air Force for five years as opposed to the regular tenure of two and a half to three yearsIn 1971, after his retirement, Singh was appointed as the Indian Ambassador to Switzerland and Vatican serving concurrently. He was also appointed as the High Commissioner to Kenya from 1974 to 1977. Subsequently, he served as a member of the National Commission for Minorities and The Government of India from 1975 to 1981. He was the Lt. Governor of Delhi from December 1989 to December 1990 and was made Marshal of the Air Force in January 2002 conferred by the then President KR Narayanan.

He was an air warrior till the end of his tenure in IAF, visiting forward bases and units and flying with the squadrons being the source of inspiration of Indian Armed Forces throughout his tenure and after that. He passed away on 16 September 2018 after suffering a heart attack at the age of 98 years. He was the oldest serving Indian Military Officer.  Sukhoi fighter jets flew past in the missing man formation in honour of the Indian Air Force's only Marshal Arjan Singh. 

Honor The Fallen. Remember their sacrifice. Celebrate the gift of freedom, paid with the blood of heroes. Blessing to those who served. 

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