Arjan Singh, India’s first ever IAF Marshal, passes away


He was admitted to the hospital on Saturday morning following a cardiac arrest

Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh passed away on Saturday at the Army Hospital (R&R), New Delhi, according to a Press Information Bureau statement. He was 98.

Mr. Singh was admitted to the hospital on Saturday morning following a cardiac arrest, following which he was treated at the Cardiothoracic and Vascular Sciences Centre of the hospital, said the statement.


Mr. Singh, who was born on April 15, 1919 in Lyalpur (undivided Punjab), was selected for the Empire Pilot training course at RAF Cranwell at the age of 19. As a Squadron Leader, he took part in the Imphal Campaign and later in Rangoon, Burma. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1944 for his contributions there.

On 15 August 1947, he was given the unique honour of leading a fly-past of over hundred IAF aircraft over the Red Fort, Delhi. Mr. Singh took over as the Chief of Air Staff (CAS) in the rank of Air Marshal one August 1, 1964. He became the Chief of Indian Air Force when he was 44 years old, and as Chief saw action in 1965 war.

Mr. Singh was the only Air Force officer to be decorated with the 5-star rank of Marshal of the Air Force. He was accorded the honor in January 2002. According to the PIB statement, the Air Force Station, Panagarh was renamed as Air Force Station Arjan Singh in 2016.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India mourns the demise of Mr.Singh. He tweeted “India mourns the unfortunate demise of Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh. We remember his outstanding service to the nation. Marshal of the IAF Arjan Singh’s determined focus on capacity building in the IAF added great strength to our defence capabilities. India will never forget the excellent leadership of Marshal of the IAF Arjan Singh in 1965, when the IAF saw substantial action.”

Reminiscing about their meeting, the PM said “Sometime back I met him, who despite his ill health tried to get up to salute even though I said no. Such was his soldier discipline.”

“My thoughts are with his family & those mourning the demise of a distinguished air warrior & fine human, Marshal of the IAF Arjan Singh. RIP,” he added.

Minister of State for External Affairs and former Chief of Army Staff, General Vijay Kumar Singh tweeted “Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh, DFC, Padma Vibhushan, passed away at 7.47 pm today at Army Hospital. RIP. Salute to him.”

Earlier on Saturday evening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Mr. Singh. He was accompanied by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.