Cessna reveal a cheaper alternative to standard military aircraft

The announcement this week by Cessna’s parent company Textron that it is pitching a new budget light attack jet to the Pentagon has caused surprise among US industry observers: aircraft of this kind are normally designed and built in response to a lengthy and formal specification and tendering process.

Textron and partner AirLand, small start-up company announced plans for the Scorpion on 16 September, at an Air Force Association technology conference held outside Washington, DC.

Described as a “versatile Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)/Strike aircraft platform,” by Textron CEO Scott Donnelly, the aircraft is claimed to cost less to buy and operate than the existing military aircraft and UAVs used for border patrol, narcotics intervention and spy missions.

The twin-engine jet, which has yet to fly, has a straight wing and tandem seating. Powered by Honeywell TFE731s the aircraft is projected to have a maximum takeoff weight of 9,650kg. Maximum cruising speed is said to be 450kt. It would be produced at Cessna’s Wichita factory.

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