WICHITA, Kan., 14 Dec. 2013. The Scorpion intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR)/strike aircraft from Textron AirLand LLC, a joint venture between Textron Inc. (NYSE:TXT) and AirLand Enterprises LLC, has completed its first flight.
The aircraft took off from McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kan., and conducted a range of handling maneuvers for roughly 1.4 hours of flight. This first flight marks one of the fastest developments of a U.S.-built tactical jet, progressing from initial design to first flight in less than 24 months, officials say.
"Today's first flight is a major milestone for the Scorpion as the program transitions into the flight test phase," explains Textron CEO Scott Donnelly. “When the design phase began less than two years ago, we were confident that we would deliver a uniquely affordable, versatile, tactical aircraft by taking advantage of commercial aviation technologies and best practices. Today’s flight met all expectations, and keeps us on track towards certification and production.”
Pilot Dan Hinson, an engineering test pilot with over 5,000 flight hours in 79 different types of aircraft, and co-pilot David Sitz operated the Scorpion during its first flight.
“The flight was completed according to plan,” Hinson says. “Having flown many tactical aircraft throughout my 23-year career with the US Navy and with other aircraft manufacturers, I can say that the Scorpion compares very favorably to more costly aircraft currently used for low-threat missions. It showed impressive stability and responsiveness closely matching all of the predicted parameters for today’s maneuvers—it’s going to be a highly capable aircraft for the ISR and homeland security mission set.”
The Scorpion was announced in September 2013 as a demonstration aircraft designed to accommodate the budget constraints and shifting mission requirements of the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. partner nations. Powered by twin turbofan engines generating 8,000 pounds of thrust, the Scorpion transitions easily between low speed and high-subsonic speed, as needed for diverse missions such as irregular warfare, border patrol, maritime surveillance, emergency relief, counter-narcotics, and air defense operations.
The Scorpion has a cruising speed of up to 450 ktas (517 mph), with a ferry range of 2,400 nautical miles. The aircraft carries an internal payload of up to 3,000 lbs., as well as wing-mounted precision munitions.