Turkish drone maker Baykar's Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Selçuk Bayraktar has said that the U.S. decision to remove Turkey from its F-35 fighter jet program is good for the country.
According to Bayraktar, who is also President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's son-in-law, the removal may seem like a disadvantage today, but will be good for Turkey's national defense industry in the future.
"This system, of which we can't have a good grasp of its software and which has a foreign duty computer and software that decides on what the trigger pulled by the pilot will do, could have placed serious limitations on us in terms of independent usage," Bayraktar said in a video he shared on Instagram on April 22.
A former MIT research student married to the younger daughter of Erdoğan, Selçuk Bayraktar has been central to Turkey’s emergence as a producer of armed drones. In 2020, his Baykar company’s TB2 unmanned planes were used with devastating effect by governments in Tripoli and Baku, both Turkish allies.
The 41-year-old shares Erdoğan's ambition to make Turkey’s projection of military power more self-sufficient.
His remarks on the F-35s came after the U.S. officially notified Turkey that it has been removed from the program.
According to Bayraktar, a local alternative with the same capabilities as the F-35 can be developed in 15 to 20 years and will cost less than the F-35s.
In the video, Bayraktar stressed that the F-35s being of foreign origin would create disadvantages for Turkey.
"When we consider the limitations on usage and potential embargoes, a national platform would provide us with independent usage," he said, before pointing to Turkey's success in the drone industry.
"By the time the local alternative is developed, it may be a generation behind those developed in the world. Instead, working on low-cost and unmanned warplanes equipped with artificial intelligence may place us among the leading countries in the world just like our armed/unarmed drones did," Bayraktar noted.
The CTO said that Baykar aims to carry out the first flight of the national unmanned warplane in 2023.