Textron and its subsidiary Cessna Aircraft on Monday introduced a small, affordable military jet called the Scorpion which would be more useful on lighter missions than larger and more costly fighter jets.
The Scorpion was introduced at the Air Force Association Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition in National Harbor, Md., the Wichita Eagle reported
Textron officials said the Scorpion could be used for Air National Guard missions, such as "irregular warfare," border patrol, maritime surveillance, emergency relief, counter-narcotics and air defense operations.
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The Scorpion's biggest selling point, though, is a low operating price in a world of sequestered military budgets, according to the Wichita Business Journal
. The plane’s operating cost of $3,000 or less per hour is well under the $25,000 per hour it cost to maintain an F-35 jet.
Officials told the Wichita Business Journal that the Scorpion can reach speeds of 450 knots, or 518 mph. The prototype was secretly designed and built at Cessna's plant in Wichita beginning in early 2012, company officials told the Wichita media Monday.
They said if the military approve purchase, the Kansas plant would likely be the home of new jet's production.
"We began development of the Scorpion in January 2012 with the objective to design, build and fly the world's most affordable tactical jet aircraft capable of performing lower-threat battlefield and homeland security missions," Textron chairman and CEO Scott Donnelly said in a statement. "We relied on commercial best practices to develop a tactical jet platform with flexibility and capabilities found only in far more costly aircraft."
Ray Jaworowski, senior aerospace analyst for Forecast International, told the Wichita Eagle that the Scorpion will compete in the market against other "light weight" aircraft such as the Embraer’s Super Tucano and Beechcraft’s AT-6 turboprops.
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"As a jet, the Scorpion will probably offer greater speed than the turboprops but, with many countries facing defense spending limitations, Textron will have to make sure that the Scorpion's operating costs are not significantly greater than its competitors," Jaworowski said in an email.
Textron spokesman David Sylvestre said the company saw a market for a mid-priced plane but gave high performance like an F-16 or F-35.
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