It is not everyday one stumbles upon something so strange, yet cool as the Scorpion lightweight strike and reconnaissance aircraft that American Textron Inc based in Providence, Rhode Island, has secretly developed with the US Air National Guard as the aimed customer.
The prototype, being marketed as “a versatile Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)/Strike aircraft platform” will fly before this year ends, a company spokesperson writes. Textron Chairman and CEO Scott Donnelly: “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. We relied on commercial best practices to develop a tactical jet platform with flexibility and capabilities found only in far more costly aircraft.”
Textron hopes to sell the Scorpion for the US Air National Guard and nations friendly to the US that have increasingly smaller budgets. “The Scorpion’s design is well matched to the Air National Guard’s missions such as irregular warfare, border patrol, maritime surveillance, emergency relief, counter-narcotics and air defense operations”, the company spokesperson states. “While Scorpion’s lower acquisition price is an advantage, an equally important benefit is the lower cost of operation over the aircraft’s full life-cycle. Combining ease of maintenance and globally-available commercial components, the Scorpion can significantly lower the customer’s total cost of ownership.”
The Scorpion looks mostly like a fusion of the Saab Gripen and a twin-tale version of the Korean T-50, with the wings of a Cessna. And actually we think it looks pretty cool for a simple jet.
The aircraft will have six hard points on the wings for external stores up to 6,000 lbs, plus an internal payload bay for up to 3,000 lbs. The all-composite aircraft has a length of 43 feet and a wingspan of 47 feet. With a maximum speed of 450 knots the aircraft should manage to operate up to 45,000 feet and fly 2,400 nautical miles (4445 km) before it needs to refuel.
Source: Textron Inc