Arjan Singh, Marshal of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and India’s oldest, five-star ranked air force officer, died at 7.47pm on 16 September 2017 after suffering a heart attack. He was 98. Singh was admitted to the Army’s Research and Referral hospital this morning, the defence ministry said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the three Service chiefs General Bipin Rawat, Admiral Sunil Lanba and Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa visited Singh at the hospital. The IAF named its Panagarh (West Bengal) air base after Arjan Singh on the occasion of his 97th birth anniversary. The Panagarh base would be called Air Force Station Arjan Singh. He was the only living officer to have a base named after him. Arjan Singh flew over 60 different kinds of aircraft and his zest for flying didn’t end until the day he retired in 1969.
Born on 15 April 1919 in Lyallpur, Punjab (now in Pakistan), Arjan Singh entered the distinguished Royal Air Force College at Cranwell at the age of 19 and graduated as a pilot officer the following year. After his retirement from the Indian Air Force in 1969, Singh served the nation as an ambassador to Switzerland in 1971, and as High Commissioner to Kenya in 1974. Later, he also became the Lt Governor of Delhi, in 1989.