Aviation

July 15, 2014

Textron’s Scorpion attracts attention at Farnborough (VIDEOS)

Textron AirLand's new Scorpion tactical jet is getting a lot of attention at the static display at this week's Farnborough International Airshow.

Textron AirLand's new Scorpion tactical jet is getting a lot of attention at the static display at this week's Farnborough International Airshow.

It's the first time that the jet, which is in flight testing, has been shown off to international customers.

Marketing on the plane has begun.

“There are lots of customer conversations going on,” Textron CEO Scott Donnelly said in an interview during the show.

But don't expect order announcements this week.

These are military customers.

They don't look at the plane and say “give me 20 of them,” Donnelly said. “It's not the way the world works.”

They must work within military budgets and an approval process. And that takes time.

Still, at about $20 million, the plane is at a price that many foreign military departments can afford, Scott Ernest, president and CEO of Textron Aviation said in an interview.

It will have operating costs of $3,000 an hour, a price much lower than larger fighter jets.

And that will help those who have fleets of older military aircraft be able to afford to replace their fleets.

In what had been a secret project, the Scorpion moved from a Powerpoint presentation to first flight in two years. It was built inside a Cessna hangar in Wichita.

The plane has a new composite fuselage and wing. but the engine, avionics, hydraulics, landing gear and other aspects existed in the marketplace, Donnelly said.

Customers will also have access to a global service network, as do aircraft built by Textron Aviation, which includes Beechcraft and Cessna.

The Scorpion has logged more than 130 flight hours in its flight test program.

“The airplane itself is performing flawlessly,” Bill Anderson, president of Textron AirLand, said at a news conference Tuesday. “We have not lost one scheduled flight” because of unscheduled maintenance, he said.

The plane is versatile. It can be loaded with weapons for missions or used for border security, humanitarian purposes, communications, surveillance and pilot training Anderson said.

The plan is for the plane to be production ready in 2016, with flex in the schedules depending on the needs of the customer.

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