The ICON: Marshal of the IAF Arjan Singh, DFC

Jasjit Singh

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This is the story of one man who has been the ICON of the Indian Air Force (IAF) for decades – but in reality it is also the history of a family called the IAF. Arjan Singh joined this family in his teens when the Second World War started, and rose to be the sole Marshal of the Indian Air Force, the highest military rank attainable which before him only two army chiefs, Carriappa and Sam Manekshaw, had achieved. At the ripe old age of 24, he commanded No. 1 Squadron, flying Hurricane fighters in defence of Imphal, in1944 beseiged by the Japanese, where the Supreme Commander SEAC, Lord Mountbatten, in an unprecedented step, personally awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) to him on the battlefield itself for his leadership and performance in defeating the Japanese.

Arjan Singh had a meteoric career and led the Indian Air Force to an unequivocal victory in Pakistan’s War in 1965. In spite of enormous difficulties, shortages, internal challenges and restraints, the IAF clearly dominated Pakistan Air Force (PAF), stopping their armour offensive on 1st September in its tracks while providing near 100 per cent of the required direct offensive air support to our army.

This biography by India’s leading defence expert, unambiguously debunks the myths of Pakistani superiority, promoted by their propaganda and our own negligence of history and empirical evidence. And it does so on the basis of hard facts, a large number of them brought to light for the first time, and explains the political and operational restrictions that applied to the air operations. The IAF was shooting down three Pakistani fighters for the loss of one of their own besides providing full support to our Army. It was shooting down three Pakistani fighters for the loss of one of their own besides providing full support to our Army. It was not only the Gnats that became “Sabre Killers” but Hunters and Mysteres shot down a large number of Sabres and Starfighters in air combat, while Canberra bombers defied the PAF by providing daylight close air support to our troops.

Written by a well known expert and author, the book tells us the story of the Air Force through the turbulent decades during which the Marshal actively served. A must read volume for the professional military leaders as well as the general reader interested in India’s history, defence and military performance.

This volume is the Second edition of the earlier work and contain additional matter of great significance.

Jasjit Singh Air Commodore Jasjit Singh AVSM, VrC, VM (Retd), awarded the Padma Bhushan for a lifetime’s contribution to national defence and security and former Director of IDSA, is the Director General of Centre for Air Power Studies, New Delhi. He is the author of a number of books, including Air Power in Modern Warfare, India’s Defence Spending and Defence from the Skies.

 

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