Cessna and Bell Helicopter parent company Textron and partner AirLand Enterprises unveiled a prototype intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance/strike aircraft named “Scorpion” at the Air Force Association Air &Space Conference in National Harbor, Md., on Monday.
The Scorpion is a clean-sheet, all-composite design with a tandem cockpit, retractable sensor mounts, an internal weapons bay and wing-mounted hard points for external stores. It is powered by twin turbofans producing 8,000 pounds of thrust. Among specifications the companies list are a mtow of 21,250 pounds, maximum speed of 450 ktas and 45,000-foot service ceiling.
The two companies—AirLand Enterprises is a small development firm that includes former Department of Defense executives as investors—have formed a joint venture called Textron AirLand to promote the Scorpion as an “affordable” tactical aircraft capable of performing “lower-threat” and homeland security missions. Its design is “well matched” to Air National Guard missions, including irregular warfare, border patrol, maritime surveillance, emergency relief, and counter-narcotics operations.
Scorpion development started in January 2012. The companies said a demonstration aircraft is in the test phase; a first flight is planned by the end of the year.
By BILL CAREY