Textron is planning for first flight of its self-funded Scorpion light attack/ISR collector as early as next week, program sources say.
The company unveiled its one-of-a-kind project during last month's Air Force Association conference in Washington. See our exclusive story here.
Seen by some as a long shot,company CEO Scott Donnelly says the project is aimed at an emerging market abroad and in the U.S. for an inexpensive aircraft capable of conducting border patrols, airborne intercepts and the like. This requirement has not yet been articulated by the U.S. Air Force, but Donnelly says one is likely to emerge due to the high cost of the F-35. He postulates that the F-35 will be used for high-end missions, opening up a spot for the Scorpion to handle the low end missions at a cheaper cost point.
Company officials must still conduct a high-speed taxi test as well as a trial of the chute. The first flight is slated to follow quickly after.
The company is targeting a per-hour flying cost of $3,000, substantially lower than most aircraft in the U.S. Air Force fleet now.