In for the sting [CAN2015D2]

28 May 2015

Textron Airland’s Scorpion twin-turbofan light jet is being presented at CANSEC in model form. The aircraft is one of the types that could be a contender to fill the advanced jet portion of Canada’s forthcoming Future Pilot Training programme. This is due to be fulfilled some time after 2021, and specific requirements have yet to be issued.

However, Textron Airland (Booth 611) is in close dialogue with the RCAF as the requirement begins to crystallise, and the first Scorpion prototype is due to visit Ottawa later this week on its way to Europe for participation in the Paris air show and other demonstrations. The Textron company already plays an important part in the current Canadian training syllabus, with the T-6, Bell 412 and King Air in service. TRU Simulation and Training is also under the Textron banner, allowing the group to propose a total training solution.

Textron’s first Scorpion prototype has now amassed more than 350 flying hours, including a transatlantic trip to Europe. The company reports that the aircraft has suffered only one unplanned maintenance event in that time, and has posted greater than 99 per cent dispatch reliability. Textron Airland has already demonstrated operating costs below the promised USD3,000 per flying hour.

Scorpion has been designed to fulfil a wide variety of roles.

Advanced training and close air support are two obvious tasks, but the aircraft has also been designed to perform missions such as maritime security and aerospace control alert. In the latter task, the Scorpion offers a high dash speed of more than 400kts, but can fly as slow as 100kts to escort slow-flying aircraft, a capability that most air defence fighters cannot match.

For long-endurance patrols, the Scorpion can fly for five hours at a radius of 150nm from base, equipped with various sensors. The internal bay can be configured to drop search and rescue stores, and its twin-turbofan configuration enhances over-water safety.

Textron Airland suggests that some of these capabilities, plus others such as on-scene commander and forward air control, may also be of interest to Canada in the future.

Textron Airland is currently completing the second prototype of the Scorpion, which is scheduled to fly for the first time early next year. This will be a production representative machine that will be the conforming article for manufacturing and certification.

Scorpion’s list price is USD20 million. For that a customer receives a fully equipped aircraft, including baseline sensors such as a retractable electro-optical/ infrared turret and a weather radar.

This combines with leading edge and intake anti-icing to allow the Scorpion to fly for extended periods in bad weather – a useful attribute for an aircraft aimed at patrol missions. There are several options, including an active electronically scanned antenna radar.

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