March 19, 2018

Arjan Singh, Marshal of the Indian Air Force, dies

17 September 2017, 01:23 | Ross Houston

Amidst reports of Arjan Singh's death, govt says he is critical

98-year-old IAF Marshal Arjan Singh critically ill, admitted to the Army Hospital

BJP president Amit Shah tweeted: "Marshal of IAF Arjan Singhji led the Indian Air Force through his exemplary leadership".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday expressed grief at the demise of Indian Air Force (IAF) Marshal Arjan Singh.

Arjan Singh died at the Army Research and Referral Hospital here on Saturday evening.

Arjan Singh became the youngest IAF chief at the age of 44, when he led the airforce in a war with Pakistan in 1965. The third IAF Chief after Independence, his leadership during the India-Pakistan war in 1965 stood out as it was the first time India used its air power. He was 98 old.

The Prime Minister also met his family members and wished him a speedy recovery.

War Veteran Arjan Singh breathed his last at the R&R Army Hospital in New Delhi. "From there of course, we were in touch with the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister also came, spoke with the family", Sitharaman said.

Arjan Singh was the sole beneficiary of Air Force Marshal rank, the first in India. "Doctors are doing their best", Modi said in a series of tweets.

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"Marshal Arjan Singh comes from a strong military background".

Promoted to Squadron Leader in 1944, Arjan Singh led the squadron against the Japanese during the Arakan Campaign. In 2016, the crucial air base at Panagarh Air Force Station was renamed after the Marshal.

- Arjan Singh's two operational tenures on the Burma Front during World War II the first as a Pilot Officer with No.1 Squadron and subsequently in 1944, as Commander of the same Squadron, are said to be exceptional landmarks of his flying career.

The former IAF chief had played a key role in India's victory in the 1965 war against Pakistan. On August 15, 1947, he led a fly past over the Red fort in Delhi. The rank of Air Marshal is equivalent to field marshal of Indian Army.

Having flown over 60 different types of aircraft from pre-WW-II era biplanes to the more contemporary Gnats and Vampires, he also flew in transport aircraft like the Super Constellation.

After his retirement in 1969, he was appointed ambassador to Switzerland. However, age finally caught up with Singh past year when he had to get up with help during the annual At Home ceremony at the IAF chief's residence on the occasion of Air Force Day on October 8.

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