Marshal of Indian Air Force (IAF) Arjan Singh was on Saturday suspected to have suffered a massive heart attack and was in a critical condition on ventilator support at the Army Hospital (R&R) here.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where Arjan Singh is undergoing treatment. 

“I received the message that Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh was taken ill. He was suspected to have had a massive heart attack in the morning and was brought to this hospital. At the hospital, he held the hand of the doctor who had been regularly visiting him, and was also responding to the treatment,” Sitharaman told reporters after the visit. 

“I also spoke to his family — his two sisters and the husband of one of the sisters — and then visited the ICU where he is being treated. 

“The Prime Minister was informed and he came here around 5 pm, spoke to the family, went to the ICU. His condition remains critical,” the Minister added.

The three services chiefs also visited the hospital. 

“We all are here, just giving all the necessary support to the family. We only hope that he recovers early. His condition remains critical,” Sitharaman said.

Arjan Singh, 98, was appointed Chief of Air Staff on August 1, 1964. He was the first Air Chief who kept his flying category till being appointed the CAS (Chief of Air Staff).

Singh had the unique honour of leading a flypast of over 100 IAF aircraft over the Red Fort on August 15, 1947 when India attained Independence. In the 1965 war with Pakistan, he led the IAF operations that pushed back the Pakistani offensive. 

He led the Indian Air Force through the war showing successful leadership and effort. Upon retirement from IAF in 1969, he was appointed the Ambassador to Switzerland.

In recognition of his services, he was conferred the rank of Marshal of the Air Force in January 2002, making him the first and the only 5-star rank officer with the IAF.