Textron AirLand LLC announced the successful maiden flight of the first production-conforming Scorpion jet. This programme milestone closely follows the recent successful weapons capability exercise on the prototype Scorpion completed in early October. The Scorpion jet is a bold new direction for tactical aircraft designed to excel in roles ranging from intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to close air support and armed reconnaissance.
The aircraft took off from McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita and conducted a range of manoeuvres during the one hour and 42 minutes flight. The multi-mission, twin-engine jet performed extremely well and was piloted by experimental test pilots Don Parker and Dave Sitz, who verified the avionics and aerodynamic performance as well as a number of aircraft systems.
The latest version of the Scorpion incorporates a number of improvements based on target customer feedback as well as results from the extensive flight test programme. The programme has accumulated more than 800 flight hours in both test and real-world operational settings.
The company also announced Garmin as the avionics provider for the enhanced Scorpion. This avionics platform is based on the advanced G3000 integrated flight deck and is optimised for rigorous military operations. The newly configured G3000 avionics system features a large, high-definition display complemented by two high-definition touch-screen controllers and provides more mission capability in the forward cockpit position, additional navigation capability in the rear cockpit position and overall weight savings for improved performance as a multi-mission aircraft.
The first production conforming Scorpion will start a robust flight test programme, working closely with the US Air Force on the first of its kind airworthiness assessment of a non-Department of Defense military aircraft design. The Scorpion is very versatile in terms of mission flexibility with its centre payload bay, six hard points, high dash speeds and extended endurance and loiter time at cruise speeds.