"Marshal of the IAF Arjan Singh was a WW II hero & won our nation's gratitude for his military leadership in 1965 war", President Kovind said in a series of tweets. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman had met him in the hospital earlier in the day.
Amidst the media report of he death of Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh, the government has officially stated that he is alive but critical.
He was given command of the IAF Display flight which flew Hawker Hurricanes after the war that toured India giving demonstrations. "I remember pilots of No. 6 Squadron, who had de-inducted from Burma, telling us about the tactics of Japanese Zero fighters and all us pilots in the station discussing these over beer", he said. He was the first Indian pilot to be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) by the Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia. He was the first Air Chief to reach the CAS (Chief of Air Staff) rank.
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In September 1965 when Pakistan launched Operation Grand Slam, in which an armoured thrust targeted the vital town of Akhnur, Singh was summoned to the Defence Minister's office with a request for air support. Upon retirement from IAF in 1969, he was appointed the Ambassador to Switzerland. Also, during the war, the IAF played a stellar role in providing the initiative to India despite the Pakistani Air Force having USA supplied jet fighters. In the subsequent year, he was appointed as the envoy to Vatican, followed by Kenya in 1974. The subsequent year, he led the forces into the war with Pakistan, which marked the greatest feat of his military career.
Last year, the IAF organised a massive celebration on his 97th birthday, and also named its Panagarh air base in West Bengal after him.
After India was declared Republic in 1950, Arjan Singh headed the Command of IAF's operational group for two years and again from 1955 to 1959. And true to his word, the Air Force struck the Pakistani offensive within an hour. He inspired IAF to victory, despite the constraints imposed on the full-scale use of Air Force combat power.
Arjan Singh became the youngest IAF chief at the age of 44, when he led the airforce in a war with Pakistan in 1965. He was Lieutenant Governor of Delhi from December 1989 to December 1990.