Not Your Father’s CG Aircraft

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Company officials unveiled the design for the Scorpion, in works since January 2012, during the annual Air Force Association Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md. (Textron AirLand)

It looks like a small attack aircraft, but it is being marketed as a an ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) asset–kind of a manned drone.

“Weaver also indicated that the suitability for maritime surveillance could lead to sales with the Coast Guard.” (emphasis applied)

Probably ravings of a delusional company executive, but it is a bold move on the part of Textron, maker of Cessna aircraft.

Here is the Company’s web page. Five of the six missions they suggest are Dept. of Homeland Security Missions–Border Security, Maritime Security, Counter-Narcotics, Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Response, Aerospace Control Alert (the CG sort of does this around DC). Somehow I think it is doubtful the DHS will start getting their own “fighters.” That will almost certainly be how they would be seen–they have six underwing hardpoints.

It is a straight winged twin engine jet and probably has much in common with the Cessna Citation family of business jets. Reportedly it will fly 400+ knots, go out 150 miles, loiter for 5 hours, and return while carrying 3,000 pounds of ISR equipment, at a cost of “only” $3000/hour (how does that compare with the HC-144?) Didn’t we just give up our jets? And I think they had a toilet for those longer missions.

Textron's Scorpion, seen during a Dec. 5 taxi test, will take its first flight next week. The plane is designed for a multi-mission role, with an emphasis on ISR capabilities.

Textron’s Scorpion, seen during a Dec. 5 taxi test, will take its first flight next week. The plane is designed for a multi-mission role, with an emphasis on ISR capabilities. (Textron)

30 thoughts on “Not Your Father’s CG Aircraft

  1. Seriously, its not like we’re trying to throw money into anything that shines and looks pretty. With Washington screwing up and sequesters hitting the armed forces, Textron might not see the biggest jump in sales with Scorpion. Sure its a lot less expensive than other options, but as for CG, not thinking its gonna be hitting Air Stations anytime soon.

  2. This is a tickler to get the airdales excited. Would jet pilots displace helicopter pilots on the top of the aviation heap?

  3. Pingback: Random Thoughts on CG Aircraft Missions | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

  4. Has the CG actually shown some interest in this aircraft or is it being marketed towards the CG? Also, do you know when the CGs current aircraft will be replaced?

    • No apparent CG interest. Being marketed to anyone who might be a buyer.

      CG aviation is in pretty good condition. C-130s are being replaced by C-27Js and new C-130Js. We are still going to be at least four medium range search aircraft short.

      Really I saw these as a possibility to replace the long range shore based UAVs we were supposed to have and/or the helicopters doing air policing over DC.

  5. Defense News reports the Air Force is looking at the possibility of procuring a light attack aircraft.

    “The Air Force’s light attack aircraft flight demonstration is officially on the books, with an experiment scheduled this summer at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.

    “the Textron AirLand Scorpion…, but its low operating and acquisition costs — less than $20 million per unit and $3,000 per flight hour — could make it a good fit for OA-X.”

    The OA-X deignation is revealing. “X” is off course experimental and “A” is attack, but “O” is for Observation. During the Vietnam War we had OV-10s (powered by twin gas turbines) and O-2s (Cessna single gasoline engine powered high wings). During the Korean war we used O-2s and T-6 trainers in similar roles. In WWII we used piper cubs and similar aircraft (L-4s and L-5s) in what was then called the Liaison role. No one would have considered the environment they flew in “permissive” but they still performed satisfactorily.

  6. Still looking for a buyer, they are continuing to test the aircraft.

    Given all the attention the attack component of the Scorpion has received in the press, it is often overlooked that the aircraft is built around a payload bay.
    The modular payload bay is impressive with great volume, electrical and cooling capacity for a wide variety of payloads/sensors.
    One example is the L-3 Wescam MX-25 – now capable of full retraction into the payload bay.
    The MX-25 is L-3 Wescam’s largest electro-optical/infrared camera.
    For comparison purposes, the US Navy P-8 Poseidon utilizes the slightly smaller L-3 Wescam MX-20.
    Aside from great payload flexibility, the Scorpion is night vision capable and both the front and rear cockpits are prepared for use with the Thales Visionix Scorpion Helmet Mounted Cueing System.

  7. Pingback: More on the Scorpion ISR/Light Attack Aircraft | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

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