Air Marshal Arjan Singh

“On Wings of Courage” revolves around the story and achievements of the ambitious, Marshal Arjan Singh. The lesson can also be regarded as an appreciation to his bravery and courage in Indian Air Force. He had successfully led a young IAF during the 1965 Indo-Pak War.

He was the only officer to attain the highest post of Marshal, the Air Force equivalent to the Army’s five-star field marshal. Being a fearless and exceptional pilot, he had flown sixty different types of aircraft. Former Vice Chief of IAF Kapil Kal claimed that his contribution to the Indian Air Force is of great importance and therefore it is not surprising that he was honoured with the rank of Air Force Marshal on the Republic Day in 2002.

Distinguished Flying Cross

Singh possessed a great knowledge about air power and applied it in a wide spectrum of areas. He led the IAF during the 1965 war very sincerely and denied victory to Pakistani Air Force though it was better equipped with American Support.

Y. B. Chavan even commented on his role stating, “Air Marshal Arjan Singh is a jewel of a person, quite efficient and firm; unexcitable but a very able leader.” He was the first Indian pilot to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) by the supreme Allied Commander of South East Asia.

At the age of 19, Singh was selected for the empire Pilot training course at Royal Air Force Cranwell in the year 1938. On being commissioned, his first assignment was to fly Westland Wapiti biplanes in the North-western Frontier Province as a member of the No.1 RIAF Squadron.

In the year 1944, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. 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. Initially from 1949-1952 and then again from 1957- 1961, Singh had the distinction of having the longest tenure as AOC of an operational base.

As Deputy Chief of the Air Staff

He was appointed as the Deputy Chief of the Air Staff in the year 1963. He was the commander of the joint air training exercise” Shiksha” held between IAF, RAF(Royal Air force) and RAAF(Royal Australian Air Force). Singh was the first Air Chief to keep his flying currency till his CAS rank.

In the year 1965, when Pakistan launched its Operation Grand Slam, with an armoured thrust targeted at the vital town of Akhnoor, Singh led IAF through the war with bravery and professional skills. Despite the restrictions imposed on the full-scale use of Air Force combat power, Singh inspired IAF to victory.

He was awarded Padma Vibhushan for his intelligence and determined leadership of the Air Force during the war. Arjan Singh was promoted to Air Chief Marshal of the Indian Air Force. After retirement in August 1969, he was Lieutenant Governor of Delhi from December 1989 to December 1990. Arjan Singh was the only officer to have “Five-Star “rank with Indian Air Force.