Textron is demonstrating a 20mm cannon on its Scorpion twin-jet ahead of the US Air Force’s light attack OA-X experiment later this summer.
In May, Textron Aviation confirmed the US Air Force invited its Beechcraft AT-6 turboprop and Scorpion jet to participate in the close air support demonstration this August at Holloman Air Force Base, Nevada. Sierra Nevada and Embraer will also fly the A-29 Super Tucano in the OA-X experiment, which will assess off-the-shelf options to fill a low-end fighter role.
Scorpion is now demonstrating the 20mm cannon at US Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, along with a .50-calibre HMP 400 pod, vice-president of Scorpion sales Bill Harris tells FlightGlobal in an interview this week. Previously, Scorpion has carried the GBU-12 Paveway II and completed a live fire test with Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System guided rockets last August, he says.
“Everything we’re doing right now is leaning toward [OA-X],” Harris says. “We’re continuing to expand the flight envelope of the aircraft and we continue to do refinement of the Moog stores management computer.”
As preparation for OA-X, Textron also plans to demonstrate the 11.3kg (25lb) BDU-33 and 227kg Mk 82 bombs. Future weapon capabilities include the SDB-1, SDB-II small diameter bombs and Brimstone air-to-ground missile, according to Textron slides. While Textron positions Scorpion for the light attack market, it’s also pitching the aircraft as an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance asset. The aircraft can be outfitted with a 15in electro-optical infrared sensor in the front, and a moving target indication radar. During the 2016 Royal International Air Tattoo, Scorpion demonstrated the Thales I-Master on Scorpion.
Textron’s expanded flight envelope and weapons testing not only bolsters its OA-X demonstration, the work also builds data that will feed Scorpion’s accreditation with the Air Force Research Laboratory. Last year, Textron entered into a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with AFRL that would grant Scorpion an airworthiness assessment and position the aircraft for foreign markets.