Textron AirLand, LLC, a joint venture between Textron Inc. and AirLand Enterprises, LLC, today unveiled its Scorpion prototype, a versatile Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)/Strike aircraft platform. The aircraft was introduced during a press conference at the Air Force Association Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition in National Harbor, Maryland.
The demonstration aircraft is now in test phase, with first flight scheduled to occur before the end of this year—a rapid schedule by any measure of military jet development.
Textron Chairman and CEO Scott Donnelly said, “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.” Donnelly continued, “We relied on commercial best practices to develop a tactical jet platform with flexibility and capabilities found only in far more costly aircraft.”
The Scorpion is designed to accommodate the increasingly stringent budget constraints of the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. partner nations. 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.
While Scorpion’s lower acquisition price is an advantage, an equally important benefit is the lower cost of operation over the aircraft’s full lifecycle. Combining ease of maintenance and globally-available commercial components, the Scorpion can significantly lower the customer’s total cost of ownership.
F. Whitten Peters, former U.S. Secretary of the Air Force, an investor in and advisor to AirLand Enterprises, LLC, commented, “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.”
He added, “In an impressively short time, the joint venture has designed and built a capable and mission-ready aircraft with no up-front government funding. We believe Scorpion will fill a critical price and performance gap in the tactical military aircraft market.”