Well done to Textron AirLand, which has completed the first flight of its (let’s be kind) “unique-looking” Scorpion light strike aircraft.
Stephen Trimble’s report into the design’s 12 December debut reveals an expected unit cost of less than $20 million, discussions with at least two potential military customers, and the possibility of producing the aircraft in an unmanned configuration.
Do we think the Scorpion will be a game-changer? Most likely not in the manned counter-insurgency segment: this is a model which could satisfy a niche requirement for most optimistically a small number of users. The prospect of a twin-jet unmanned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform also might appeal to only a handful of buyers.
What’s refreshing though is that the team behind the composite-fuselaged type has gone from concept to first flight in just 23 months. We’ll be keeping an eye on the project over the coming year, with first weapons trials due to occur before the end of 2014.
[No apologies for the German mullet-rock-inspired headline, by the way.]