Congratulations to those at Cessna Aircraft involved in the secretive development since early 2012 of Textron AirLand’s Scorpion, a light jet for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and attack. Now, Cessna officials and local and state leaders need to do whatever it takes to keep Scorpion production in Wichita long term.
The prototype was unveiled Monday at an exposition in Maryland by parent company Textron, as Cessna president and CEO Scott Ernest revealed the project locally in a speech to the Rotary Club of Wichita.
Testing and early production will be done in Wichita for the all-composite aircraft, which borrows the technology of the Citation business jets and is a joint venture of Textron and AirLand Enterprises. Officials say its first flight could come before the end of the year, with low-volume production in 2015. Potential customers include the U.S. Air Force, other branches of the military, the Air National Guard and the military forces of U.S. allies.
As Textron seeks such customers for what a Wall Street Journal blog called “the budget-priced American fighter jet,” the state and local governments and the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition need to fight to ensure that all or most of the Scorpion project stays in Wichita and Kansas.
Textron spokesman Dave Sylvestre said: “There isn’t an aircraft like it.”
And there isn’t an aviation-manufacturing workforce better suited to build it than Wichita’s.
For the editorial board, Rhonda Holman