There’s no guarantee Cessna will build the Textron AirLand Scorpion light tactical jet over the long term if it gains the orders its backers hope for. In a weekend email exchange with AVweb, Textron spokesman David Sylvestre said that even though Cessna engineers and workers played a major role in building the prototype, the Textron-owned company is not a shoo-in to get the long-term manufacturing work. “Depending on demand and manufacturing capacity needs, the final site of Scorpion manufacturing beyond the initial low rate production (2015) is yet to be decided,” Sylvestre said. “It may be bullt ‘at’ Cessna, but by the joint venture called Textron AirLand … which is a legal entity of Textron Inc. and AirLand Enterprises LLC. Cessna itself is not formally a co-owner of the joint venture at this time.” AirLand Enterprises LLC, Textron’s partner in the project, is described by Sylvestre as “a group of outside investors who originally came to Textron with the concept of a lower cost tactical jet.”
The aircraft underwent taxi tests last week and is supposed to fly this week and Sylvestre said there is a lot of market potential for the little jet. “USAF is one potential customer,” he said. “There are many others [such as the] National Guard, other branches of U.S. armed services, and many more U.S. partner nations who all have low-threat ISR-Strike mission requirements as described on ScorpionJet.com.” Textron AirLand is hoping to fly the aircraft by Dec. 5.