Scorpion’s Maiden Flight

Scorpion—Textron AirLand’s new light attack intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance aircraft—lifted off on its maiden flight from McConnell AFB, Kan., Thursday, company officials announced. Test pilots flew a series of handling checks, landing safely back at McConnell after 1.4-hours aloft, states the Dec. 12 release. “It showed impressive stability and responsiveness closely matching all of the predicted parameters for today’s maneuvers—it’s going to be a highly capable aircraft for the ISR and homeland security mission set,” company test pilot Dan Hinson said after landing. Scorpion’s design team developed, built, and flew the low-cost experimental jet in less than two years, borrowing heavily on existing technologies and techniques, the company said. The straight-wing subsonic jet is designed for a variety of light surveillance or attack roles in permissive threat environments, including counterinsurgency, narcotic-interdiction, and anti-piracy. The jet’s twin engines allow it to carry a 3,000-pound sensor payload internally in addition to precision-guided weapons on the wing stations. Scorpion cruises at 517 miles per hour, with a 2,400 nautical-mile ferry range. “When the design phase began … we were confidant that we would deliver a uniquely affordable, versatile tactical aircraft,” said Textron CEO Scott Donnelly. “Today’s flight met all expectations, and keeps us on track towards certification and production,” he added.