The US Air Force is moving ahead with an airworthiness assessment of the Scorpion, a dual light attack fighter and trainer aircraft funded by Textron AirLand.

Textron and the air force signed a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA), allowing the service for the first time to certificate the aircraft’s airworthiness in the absence of a programme of record, according to a 15 July news release.

The airworthiness assessment is viewed by Textron AirLand as a critical step in opening up the Scorpion to sales to customers besides the US military.

The air force opened its new airworthiness accreditation office earlier this spring to offer self-funded industry projects an opportunity to receive accreditation.

The prospect of a stamp of approval by the USAF could boost Textron AirLand’s hope for Scorpion contracts, but the project remains a gamble for the company. Although the Scorpion twinjet is designed for light attack and training roles, Textron AirLand has decided not to bid for the looming USAF T-X contract.

Despite little prospect of sales to the USAF, officials at Textron AirLand are confident the Scorpion's capabilities and sister company Textron Aviation’s global support network offers an attractive combination.