The Textron AirLand Scorpion is an American tandem-seat twinjet aircraft proposed for sale to perform light attack and Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) duties. It is being developed by Textron AirLand, a joint venture between Textron and AirLand Enterprises. The Scorpion is designed to cheaply perform armed reconnaissance using sensors to cruise above 15,000 ft, higher than most ground fire can reach, and still be rugged enough to sustain minimal damage. A prototype was secretly constructed by Cessna at their Wichita, Kansas facility between April 2012 and September 2013 and first flown on 12 December 2013.
Production costs were minimized by using common commercial off the shelf technology, manufacturing resources and components developed for Cessna’s business jets; such as the flap drive mechanism is from the Cessna Citation XLS and Cessna Citation Mustang, the aileron drive mechanism is from the Citation X. Textron AirLand calls the Scorpion an ISR/strike aircraft, instead of a “light attack” aircraft. The joint venture also states the Scorpion is intended to handle “non-traditional ISR” flights such as those performed by U.S. fighters in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Scorpion is designed to be affordable, costing US$3,000 per flight hour, with a unit cost expected to be below US$20 million. Textron AirLand selected Cobham plc to design the cockpit, which will feature modern flat-panel displays. The aircraft will not have fly-by-wire to keep costs down and simplify the design. This Aarcraft is powered by two Honeywell TFE731 turbofans producing 8,000 lb (3,600 kg) of thrust total. According to Textron AirLand, endurance is optimized for spending 5 hours carrying out a loiter up to 150 miles from base. Except for the landing gear and engine fittings and mounts, the airframe is all-composite with an anticipated service life of 20,000 hours.
The Scorpion is to have a 3,000 lb (1,400 kg) payload of precision and non-precision munitions or intelligence-collecting equipment in a simplified and reconfigurable internal bay. A modular design allows for six hardpoints wings to be removed and replaced by different wing designs. MIL-STD-1760 connections and NATO standard 14-inch lug ejector racks can interface with a wide range of international weapons. The Scorpion had successfully completed its first weapons exercise at White Sands Missile Range, all weapon types performed flawlessly and included Hydra-70 unguided 2.75-inch rockets, BAE Systems’ Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) and AGM-114F Hellfire Missiles. The weapons were guided to their targets using first a ground-based laser designator system and then an airborne laser on the Scorpionâ€˜s L-3 WESCAM’s MX-15Di sensor suite.