Textron AirLand LLC has taken the wraps off a new multirole-capable jet aircraft design. The firm's twin-engined, twin-tailed Scorpion was unveiled to the world on 16 September 2013 and should now fly, for the first time, in coming weeks.
The Textron Scorpion development programme was launched in January 2012. The goal, according to Textron, was to redefine the concept of cost-effective tactical jet capability. Adaptable and versatile, the Scorpion is being pitched as an attack aircraft and an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform. It is therefore potentially capable of serving in the air defence, counter-narcotics, emergency relief, maritime surveillance, border control and irregular warfare roles.
It is also perceived that the Scorpion could be especially attractive to nations constrained by defence cuts. According to Textron's Scorpion website, the type is 'the first affordable, US-built tactical aircraft in decades and will benefit US and partner nations requiring a modern economical aircraft to address diverse threats.'
Scorpion: Low-Cost Multirole Jet
The type boasts an all-composite airframe, with an anticipated service life of 20,000 hours. Its two engines generate 8,000 pounds of thrust, producing a top speed of around 518 miles per hour. The Scorpion low-cost multirole jet's service ceiling is 45,000 feet and it has a maximum range of 2,400 nautical miles, while three weapons rails are fitted to each wing for the carriage and launch of external stores.
"We began development of the Scorpion in January 2012 with the objective to design, build and fly the world's most affordable tactical jet aircraft capable of performing lower-threat battlefield and homeland security missions", said Textron's CEO, Scott Donnelly. "We relied on commercial best practices to develop a tactical jet platform with flexibility and capabilities found only in far more costly aircraft."
"With its industry-leading capabilities in commercial aircraft and defense systems design and manufacturing, Textron was a natural partner to bring the vision of an affordable tactical military jet to fruition", added ex-USAF Secretary, F Whitten Peters. "We believe Scorpion will fill a critical price and performance gap in the tactical military aircraft market."
Textron Scorpion photo: Business Wire