In a joint effort between Textron and AirLand, a prototype of a new, low-cost light attack and ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) jet, called the Scorpion, is being developed. Textron Airland, which is comprised of Textron, builders of Cessna business planes, as well as E-Z Go golfcarts, and AirLand Enterprises, a new company formed by former defense and aerospace executives, unveiled the Scorpion Monday at a trade show in Maryland, and hope to market the new fighter to the U.S. Military.
Below is a neat Scorpion construction timelapse movie:
The U.S. Air Force mostly used A-10 Thunderbolt II, F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-15E Strike Eagle planes during wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in uncontested airspace. Basically, it was never like Top Gun. These planes were designed during the Cold War, and eventually proved to be highly expensive to operate, and their capability for high speed and high-G maneuvers wasn’t even necessary. An F-16, which these days is mostly used to drop bombs and do recon, costs about $25,000 an hour to operate. The new Scorpion is said to cost about $3,000 an hour.
The Scorpion prototype is a tandem-seat twin engine jet, that can also be flown by a single pilot. Not only is it cheap to operate, but production costs have been kept low, as Textron was able to modify existing systems used in making Cessnas. Here are some stats:
Length: 43 ft 6 in (13.26 m)
Wingspan: 47 ft 4 in (14.43 m)
Empty weight: 11,800 lb (5,352 kg)
Maximum speed: 517 mph (832 km/h; 449 kn)
Ferry range: 2,762 mi; 4,445 km (2,400 nmi)
Textron Airland’s website explains, “The aircraft’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.” Textron Chairman and CEO Scott Donnelly adds, “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.”