Arjan Singh
Arjan Singh

War hero Marshal Arjan Singh, who led the Indian Air Force during the 1965 India-Pakistan conflict, died yesterday at 7.30pm.

Ninety-eight-year-old Singh, the only officer of the IAF to be promoted to five-star rank, equal to a Field Marshal in the Army, was admitted to the Army's Research and Referral hospital this morning after he suffered a cardiac arrest, the defence ministry said.

An icon in the country's military history, Singh had led a fledgling IAF in the 1965 Indo-Pak war when he was just a 44-year-old. As Pakistan launched its Operation Grand Slam with an armoured thrust targeted at the vital town of Akhnoor in Jammu and Kashmir, he led the IAF through the war with courage, determination and professional skill.

The fighter pilot, who inspired the IAF despite constraints on the full-scale use of air combat power, was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honour, in 1965.