Scorpion Drawing Interest
Textron AirLand says response from military and paramilitary organizations to the first flight of its Scorpion tactical jet has been overwhelmingly positive and the twin jet may appear at airshows this coming season. Dale Tutt, the chief engineer on the project, told AVweb in a podcast interview the Scorpion, which will cost "somewhere south of $20 million" and about $3,000 an hour to operate, fills a performance and price gap in the military aircraft market that no one else is filling. "Having an airplane that's affordable in those lower threat environments really makes a lot of sense," he said. He noted the Air Force and other military powers around the world are currently using supersonic fighters at great expense in places like Afghanistan where there is no real airborne threat and the Scorpion's 450-knot "dash," five hours of loitering endurance and the ability to carry a wide variety of weapons give it the mix of capabilities needed for that environment at much lower cost.
Tutt said the aircraft was designed to incorporate as much "off the shelf" and "mature" technologies as possible to reduce development time and cost. Some of the systems are borrowed from Cessna's Citation line of business jets. The aircraft is built around a pod that can be adapted to hold everything from surveillance cameras to laser-guided bombs and is the heart of the aircraft's mission profile flexibility.