The indigenously designed Tejas fighter jet has been the recipient of considerable criticism in the press, both Indian and overseas, ever since its maiden flight in 2001. The criticism has focussed on a number of grounds: The long delays in development of Tejas, purported inadequacies in its performance and continued reliance on foreign companies for vital components.
Despite the criticism, the Tejas has also been an example of international cooperation. And it was this aspect that Foreign Policy, a respected US magazine, highlighted in an article on Wednesday. Foreign Policy columnist Salvatore Babones wrote, “Not only does it have one of the world’s largest military procurement budgets and a large pool of talented engineers, but India also has a strong tradition of rule of law that protects intellectual property and ensures the enforceability of contracts—in stark contrast to China, which is fast losing access to many advanced Western technologies.”
Foreign Policy described the Tejas as a flagship project of the Atmanirbhar Bharat programme. Foreign Policy noted the F404 engine powering the Tejas was supplied by GE in the US and the fighter’s radar and electronic warfare equipment came from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). The article argued this reliance on foreign products was not a problem. “As a democratic country that honors contracts and respects intellectual property law, it is able to buy advanced technology that it cannot produce itself.
That gives the country a major advantage over its regional rivals, China and Pakistan, which simply are not trusted by their suppliers,” Foreign Policy stated. The article referred to China’s continued reliance on Russia for aircraft engines even as Moscow did not trust Beijing due to fear of ‘reverse-engineering’.