Textron & Cessna Complete First Flight of the Scorpion ISR/Strike Jet
Textron AirLand, LLC and Cessna Aircraft completed the first flight of their Scorpion jet prototype and demonstrator on December 12, 2013 from Wichita, Kansas.
The Scorpion is a twin-engine, low-cost jet designed to meet the shifting needs of the United States Department of Defense and foreign nations - particularly in areas of border and maritime security where long missions and sustained sortie rates can place a burden on dedicated tactical aircraft which were never designed for that role. The Scorpion benefits from many commercially off-the-shelf components better suited for sustained Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and Strike operations.
"Today's first flight is a major milestone for the Scorpion as the program transitions into the flight test phase," commented Textron CEO Scott Donnelly. “When the design phase began less than two years ago, we were confident that we would deliver a uniquely affordable, versatile tactical aircraft by taking advantage of commercial aviation technologies and best practices. Today’s flight met all expectations, and keeps us on track towards certification and production,” he added.
Textron announced the aircraft in September 2013 during the Air Force Association conference, and their move to first flight is an impressive milestone in a very short time frame.
The two-seat jet is powered by twin-turbo fan engines and will be able to carry 3,000 pounds of internal payload. The all composite airframe will have an initial service life of 20,000 hours. In comparison, the F-15 was designed for an initial service life of 9,000 hours but measures are well underway to at least double the service life of those venerable fighters.
In the ten years following 9/11, over 42,000 sorties have been flown in support of the Air Sovereignty Alert mission, a toll that has greatly impacted the service life of the F-15s and F-16s allocated to that task. With the accelerated retirement schedule, the Scorpion might find a welcome reception as a low-cost alternative for that mission in lieu of using high-cost F-22 and F-35 resources for the long term.
Take a detailed look at the Scorpion's specs here.
Photos courtesy Textron AirLand