NATIONAL HARBOR, Md., 21 Sept. 2013. Scorpion, a prototype intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and strike aircraft platform from Textron AirLand LLC, a joint venture between Textron Inc. (NYSE:TXT) and AirLand Enterprises LLC, is turning heads at the Air Force Association (AFA) Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition in National Harbor, Md.
The demonstration aircraft is in the test phase, with first flight scheduled to occur before the end of this year—a rapid schedule by any measure of military jet development, according to a company spokesperson.
“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,” Textron Chairman and CEO Scott Donnelly explains. “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, designed to accommodate the stringent budget constraints of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and U.S. partner nations, is well suited to the Air National Guard’s missions such as irregular warfare, border patrol, maritime surveillance, emergency relief, counter-narcotics, and air defense operations, says a spokesperson.
Scorpion is designed to carry a lower acquisition price and lower cost of operation over the aircraft’s full lifecycle than competing platforms. Combining ease of maintenance and globally-available commercial components, the Scorpion can significantly lower the customer’s total cost of ownership, according to a spokesperson.
“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,” says F. Whitten Peters, former U.S. Secretary of the Air Force and an investor in/advisor to AirLand Enterprises LLC. “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.”