THE SCORPION TACTICAL fighter jet, developed by Textron AirLand LLC as an affordable alternative to current intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, completed its first flight in Wichita, Kan., on Thursday.
WICHITA, Kan. – The Scorpion tactical jet, developed by Textron AirLand LLC, completed its first flight Thursday at McConnell Air Force Base, less than 24 months after the initial design phase began to develop the aircraft.
Textron AirLand is a joint venture between Providence-based Textron Inc. and AirLand Enterprises LLC, a group of outside investors who worked with Textron on the concept of a lower-cost, versatile tactical jet.
“Today’s first flight is a major milestone for the Scorpion as the program transitions into the flight-test phase,” said Textron CEO Scott Donnelly in a release. “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.”
Textron AirLand announced the Scorpion intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft in September 2013. Powered by twin turbofan engines generating 8,000 lbs. of thrust, the Scorpion transitions easily between low speed and high-subsonic speed, desirable for missions such as irregular warfare, border patrol, maritime surveillance, emergency relief, counter-narcotics and air defense operations, the company said.
The Scorpion has a cruising speed of up to 517 mph, with a maximum range of 2,400 nautical miles. The aircraft carries an internal payload of up to 3,000 lbs., as well as wing-mounted precision munitions.
Dan Hinson, an engineering test pilot, crewed the Scorpian’s first flight with co-pilot David Sitz.
“The flight was completed according to plan,” said Hinson. “Having flown many tactical aircraft throughout my 23-year career with the U.S. Navy and with other aircraft manufacturers, I can say that the Scorpion compares very favorably to more costly aircraft currently used for low-threat missions. It showed impressive stability and responsiveness closely matching all of the predicted parameters for today’s maneuvers.”