Ground testing is under way of an all-new jet-powered tactical strike aircraft designed to perform “lower-threat battlefield and homeland security missions” pitched at cash-strapped militaries across the globe.
Cessna parent Textron has teamed with AirLand Enterprises, forming a joint venutre, Textron AirLand, to develop the Scorpion, with first flight anticipated later this year, it says.
Development work on the programme started in January 2012 with the aiming building the “world’s most affordable tactical jet aircraft”, says Textron chairman and chief executive Scott Donnelly.
“We relied on commercial best practices to develop a tactical jet platform with flexibility and capabilities found only in far more costly aircraft,” he says.
The Scorpion is designed to accommodate the increasingly stringent budget constraints of the US Department of Defense and partner nations, it says, with its mission profile matched to those performed by the US Air National Guard.
Configured with canted tails and largely unswept wings which span 14.4m (47ft 4in), the Scorpion features and all-composite fuselage, internal payload bay and wing-mounted hardpoints for “precision and non-precision munitions”.
Production costs have been kept to a minimum “by leveraging systems developed for Cessna business jet platforms, common technology and manufacturing resources” according to the Scorpion’s marketing materials.
Power comes from a pair of turbofan engines producing 8,000lb thrust (35.6kN).
Source: Flight International