“Scorpion”: Cessna’s new, low cost tactical strike aircraft (with some F-14 Tomcat inputs)

Cessna parent company Textron has (secretly) developed a new tactical strike aircraft capable to replace current, costly combat planes in low lethality scenarios and homeland security mission: “irregular warfare,” border and maritime patrol, intelligence surveillance reconnaissance, counter-narcotics and air defense operations.

The aircraft is a two-seater with twin tails, two 8,000 lb turbofan engines, straight wings and all-composite fuselage (its shape, eapecially the tail complex, loosely reminds that of the F-14 Tomcat). The internal weapons bay and the external hardpoint give the aircraft the capability to accomodate precision guided munitions.

With a maximum speed of about 450 kts and a hourly cost of only 3,000 USD, the Scorpion, that will perform its maiden flight in the next few months, has all the features of the “perfect aircraft” emerged during the Libya Air War in 2011 that highlighted the need for low-cost combat planes to contain the cost of prolonged operations.

However, it is unclear whether such platform has real chances to see active service within the U.S. Air Force, considered that most, if not all its tasks, could be eventually fulfilled by weaponized drones (UCAVs – Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles).

Image credit: Textron


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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


    • if you look closely you can see that the tomcat’s tails are slightly canted (I think no more than 3 degrees) , one of the two more than other one for some aerodynamic reason I don’t remember

  1. Because it looks so much like a modern fighter jet, the USAF will never buy it. It would put at risk their pet program, the F-35, and they know it. They’ll think that the American public might start to think that DoD can do better. That they can spend less while maintaining a credible defense posture.This makes the brass (and Lockheed Martin) cringe. Super Tuscano or T-6? That they will be OK with because it looks nothing like a jet, and they can explain it away as a cheap turbo-prop needed to do a cheap mission. But like the Navy, they want BIG and EXPENSIVE, not small and cheap! Small and cheap is for third-world countries only! And that’s what they want the American public to think too. So Scorpion doesn’t stand a chance. Like the F-20 (see below), the USAF will find a way to kill it even if it is a more sensible, cheaper alternative. The door to less expensive weapons systems is one that they simply do not want to open. Not even a itsy-bitsy crack! Too dangerous to their egos, and to their wallets!

    PS. It does look a lot like the F-14 – wings swept forward. As a matter of fact, had DoD not killed the F-14 program, a newly designed and improved Tomcat, one upgraded and kept in production, might very well have had a cantilevered tail section just like the Scorpion. Along with other improvements. And it would have far out-performed the F/A-18E/F, which would never have been borne in the first place had Tomcat continued. Never have evolved from the F/A-18, the E/F model being a totally redesigned aircraft from the original [smaller] model F/A-18 (which BTW lost to F-16 in a fly-off for a low-cost alternative to the F-15. Back then the designation for the aircraft was YF-17). But an improved Tomcat that would have bested the F/A-18E/F (longer legs, bigger payload, better performance)? Guess we’ll never know …

  2. even if the USAF is not taking any order, countries with tight budgets might considering buy the scorpion

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