Revamped Scorpion jet to begin Air Force assessment
By JERRY SIEBENMARK | The Wichita Eagle (Tribune News Service) | Published: December 27, 2016
With the successful first flight of Textron's first production-conforming Scorpion jet, the aircraft enters a first-of-its-kind evaluation program with the Air Force.
Last week, the latest version of the Scorpion tactical jet — featuring improvements suggested by potential customers based on the prototype Scorpion that first flew three years ago this month — took off from McConnell Air Force Base for a one-hour, 42-minute flight.
Changes to the production-conforming Scorpion included 4 degrees of sweep to the wings, an enhanced aft horizontal stabilizer and a simplified landing gear design.
Officials from Textron AirLand, a unit of Textron Inc., said during the test flight that they verified the Scorpion's newly configured Garmin G3000 avionics and aerodynamic performance as well as a number of other aircraft systems.
Now, the revamped twin-engine, multimission jet will undergo an assessment by the Air Force Airworthiness Office.
That assessment will be performed by way of the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement reached in August between the Air Force and Textron Air Land. Air Force officials said the assessment is unique because it has never done a CRADA involving an airplane that it doesn't formally plan to buy.
"We have not done a CRADA like this before and we have never had a partnership with industry to assess aircraft that are not under a USAF acquisition contract," Jorge Gonzalez of the Air Force Technical Airworthiness Authority said in a news release announcing the agreement.
Gonzalez also will oversee the Scorpion assessment program.
The Air Force said the assessment is important to making direct, commercial sales of the airplane to foreign military services.
Since the first flight of the prototype Scorpion in December 2013, it has accumulated more than 800 flight hours and flown to 10 countries for demonstrations to foreign military services. The jet was designed and built in Wichita. Textron AirLand says the subsonic Scorpion can be used for intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance, and close air support missions.
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