The Scorpion light attack jet is making its Paris Air Show debut as manufacturer Textron AirLand further explores the European market for its clean-sheet design. Attendees can view the tandem cockpit twinjet in fully armed configuration at the A4 static display area.
Textron AirLand exhibited the Scorpion last summer at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at Fairford, UK, and at the Farnborough International Airshow. The jet arrived in Paris on June 9 after completing its second transatlantic flight since it first flew in December 2013. It will be displayed at Le Bourget through Thursday, then make a second appearance at RIAT, which this year takes place from July 17 to 19.
The joint venture of Textron’s Cessna Aircraft subsidiary and AirLand Enterprises said it will demonstrate the Scorpion for “multiple European air forces” (that it declined to identify) while the twinjet remains in Europe. It is emphasizing the Scorpion’s multi-mission capabilities, ranging from strike to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as the $20 million acquisition price and $3,000 per hour operating costs.
“We’re seeing interest…on every continent,” Dale Tutt, Scorpion program chief engineer, told AIN. “The affordability and the hourly operating costs are an appealing value proposition.”
Textron AirLand is completing design work and planning to build a new production-conforming aircraft at Textron’s “glasshouse” rapid prototyping facility in Wichita. The second prototype will incorporate modifications to the original Scorpion including a trailing-link main landing gear and fully trimmable horizontal tails.
The venture is pleased with its original choice of the Honeywell TFE731 turbofan and will stay with that engine, although the Scorpion is designed to accommodate others. “It would take a major issue, a major concern, at this point to move away from that [powerplant],” Tutt said. First flight of the production-conforming aircraft is planned in 2016.
Here at the Paris Air Show, the Scorpion on display is configured with nose and payload bay sensors and various weapons on all six wing stations to demonstrate its versatility. “We want to be able to show the fact that it’s multi-spectral, and also show the tactical interfaces to both pilots,” said Tutt.
Weapon systems on display will include Raytheon AGM-176 Griffin, MBDA Brimstone and Lockheed Martin Hellfire and JAGM missiles; Raytheon’s Enhanced Paveway IV laser-guided bomb; plus Textron Systems’ G-CLAW guided glide munition and FN Herstal 50 caliber gun.
Sensors include the FLIR Systems’ Star Safire 380-HD and L-3 Wescam MX-15 imaging turrets, and Thales I-Master synthetic aperture radar and ground moving-target indicator.