The Textron AirLand joint venture said its Scorpion light strike and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) jet has completed 50 hours of flight-tests since it first flew on December 12 last year. The prototype has flown to 30,000 feet and at 120 to 310 knots calibrated airspeed, with a maximum airspeed tested of 430 ktas.
As of April 9, pilots had conducted 26 separate flights to gather data about the twinjet’s performance at various speeds, altitudes and climb rates, and to assess responsiveness of its avionics, flight control and landing systems. “The aircraft systems have performed well within the expected parameters, with very few issues,” said Dale Tutt, Scorpion chief engineer. The jet is built with “mature, non-developmental systems,” including flight-control hydraulics based on those of the Citation X business jet, which has reduced overall development time, the company said.
Textron’s Cessna Aircraft subsidiary and AirLand Enterprises quietly built the prototype in Wichita, Kan. They unveiled it for the first time at the Air Force Association Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md., last September, touting it as a low-cost strike and ISR jet for U.S. and foreign-partner defense and security forces. The Scorpion is constructed mostly of composites, with the exception of its landing gear and engine fittings and mounts. It is configured with a tandem cockpit, retractable sensor mounts, canted tails and an unswept wing spanning 47.4 feet. The prototype is powered by twin Honeywell TFE731 turbofans.
Plans call for the Scorpion to fly 300 to 400 test hours this year, requiring about 150 flights. The regime may include international flights, pending approvals, Textron AirLand said.