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1965, 1971 War Veteran Air Marshal Ranjit Singh Bedi Passes Away: Here's A Brief Profile

Swarajya Staff

Jul 02, 2024, 04:08 PM | Updated 04:08 PM IST

Ranjit Singh Bedi
Ranjit Singh Bedi

Air Marshal Ranjit Singh Bedi (retd), a distinguished Indian Air Force officer and veteran of the 1965 and 1971 wars, as well as a former councillor of the Chandigarh Municipal Council has passed away in New Delhi after a brief illness. He was 89 years old.

After retiring, Air Marshal Bedi settled in Chandigarh, becoming a well-known public figure and a prolific writer on defense and strategic issues. His son currently serves as an air vice marshal in the IAF.

Air Marshal Bedi began his military career at the National Defence Academy in its ninth course and was commissioned from the Air Force Academy in the 68th pilot course in April 1956.

According to IAF historian Anchit Gupta, Air Marshal Bedi was selected for the fighter stream, initially flying a de Havilland Vampire.

His first operational assignment was with 1 Squadron. In 1957, he joined the newly formed 27 Squadron and soon transitioned to flying Hawker Hunter aircraft. He was later assigned to 7 Squadron at Ambala and played a pivotal role in establishing the IAF’s first aerobatics team.

Throughout his career, Bedi had multiple postings in 27 Squadron and completed the Pilot Attack Instructor Course in Jamnagar, Gujarat. He also served as an instructor at the National Defence Academy in Khadakwasla, Pune, as a divisional officer of Alpha Squadron.

During the 1965 war, he flew combat air patrols with 20 Squadron and later served as a flight commander in 45 Squadron. Bedi was instrumental in converting pilots to the MiG-21 platform.

In the Republic Day Parade flypast in 1970, Bedi piloted a MiG-21 aircraft that collided with another MiG-21, causing structural damage to his aircraft. Demonstrating exceptional airmanship, he managed to bring the damaged aircraft back to base in Chandigarh. For this act of bravery and skill, he was awarded the Vayu Sena Medal.

During the 1971 war, Bedi was stationed in Sirsa with 29 Squadron, flying escort and combat air patrol missions. Upon promotion to wing commander, he became the commanding officer of 27 Squadron.

Bedi later held several significant positions, including commanding officer at 1 Tactical Air Command in Jalandhar, Punjab, and chief operations officer in Jamnagar. He also commanded the signal unit at Arjangarh near Delhi and served as air officer commanding at Halwara in Punjab.

As an air vice marshal, he served as senior officer-in-charge (administration) in the Western Air Command and later as senior air staff officer of the Eastern Air Command upon promotion to air marshal. His final appointment was as director general of the defense planning staff, before retiring in November 1993.

The cremation of Air Marshal Bedi’s body will take place at Brar Square in the Delhi Cantonment with the antim ardas ceremony to be held in Chandigarh.

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