WITH VIDEO: Scorpion light combat jet up in the air

First flight of the Scorpion light combat jet in December 2013 (Image © Textron Inc)
First flight of the Scorpion light combat jet in December 2013 (Image © Textron Inc)

Textron AirLand flew the prototype Scorpion light attack and reconnaissance platform for the first time on 12 December 2013, the project management of the Bell Textron / AirLand Systems co-operation confirmed.

Piloted by ex-US Navy aviator Dan Hinson the aircraft with registration N531TA took took off from McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas, for a flight that lasted 80 minutes.

Designing the Scorpion only started about two years ago. Getting a modern military airplane airborne so quickly is quite unique in the business. AIRheads↑Fly reported about the aircraft in September, when it ran engine tests.

The project is said to be supported by the US Air National Guard, which might buy the Scorpion as a low-price air asset. The jet is officially designed “to perform lower-threat battlefield and homeland security missions”.

According to Textron AirLand the Scorpion will cost less than 20 million US dollars and can be flown for about 3,000 bucks per hour. For the US Air Force’s main close air support aircraft, the A-10 Warthog, that price tag is about 13,000 but the A-10 has a very high survivability rate. A more regular F-16 flies for about US$ 16,000.

Textron AirLand continues testing the aircraft. A project spokesman said the first Scorpion could be delivered to a customer as early as the beginning of 2015.

Source: Textron Inc. with additional reporting by AIRheads’ Marcel Burger