103rd Birth Anniversary of Arjan Singh, DFC
Marshal of the IAF Arjan Singh DFC: The Indian Air Force pays tribute to the famous air warrior Late Marshal of Air Force Arjan Singh DFC, on his 103rd anniversary. On this day, we recognize the Marshal’s service to the nation and the Indian Air Force.
Arjan Singh, Marshal of the Air Force, was born at Lyallpur (now Faisalabad in Pakistan) on 15 April 1919. He was selected for training at the Royal Air Force College, Cranwell, at the age of 19 and was commissioned into the Royal Indian Air Force as a Pilot Officer in December 1939. He was given the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for his outstanding leadership, skill, and courage during World War II’s Burma Campaign. On 15 August 1947, the day India attained independence, he was given the unique honour of conducting a fly-past of nearly a hundred Indian Air Force aircraft over Delhi’s Red Fort. Arjan Singh assumed the position of Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) with the rank of Air Marshal on 01 August 1964, at the age of 44.
In September 1965, Pakistan launched Operation Grand Slam, an armoured assault on the strategic town of Akhnur. When he was called to the Defense Minister’s office with a request for air support and asked how quickly the IAF would be ready for action, “…in an hour” was the answer. Indeed, the Indian Air Force hit Pakistan’s advance within an hour, establishing air supremacy against the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), and assisting the Indian Army in achieving strategic victories.
He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in recognition of his leadership during the 1965 War. Arjan Singh was appointed the Indian Air Force’s first Air Chief Marshal. After retiring in July 1969, he continued to make significant contributions to the IAF’s advancement and welfare. He also served the country as Ambassador to Switzerland, the Holy See, and Liechtenstein from 1971 to 1974, and then as High Commissioner of India in Kenya from 1974 to 1977. He also served as a member of India’s Minorities Commission from 1978 to 1981 and as Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor from 1989 to 1990.
In honour of his contributions, the Government of India conferred Arjan Singh with the rank of Marshal of the Air Force in January 2002, making him the Indian Air Force’s first ‘Five Star’ rank officer. Air Force Station Panagarh was renamed Air Force Station Arjan Singh in 2016 to honour his service to the Indian Air Force.
His dynamic personality, professional competence, leadership abilities, and strategic vision distinguish him as an Indian Air Force icon.
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