“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.

6 Comments

  1. Why the internal weapon’s bay, if the airframe is not designed to be stealthy? At least design some stealth feature into it for marketing sake….

    • It’s low and slow capabilities–with full speed capabilities approaching 500 kts is far cheaper and often better than monstrously expensive stealth design.

      Plus, this would be a cheaper, less complex plane–and it could be ‘scrambled’ in a fraction of the time. Pilot training and maintenance would be far less specialized, as well.

      It’s not lost on Cessna that this plane can be a toy for some really rich guys, too.

  2. The DHS (Department of Homeland Security) would love these for dealing with rebel Americans when the time comes. Cessna wouldn’t have wasted time developing it if there were no need.

  3. Just think, they’ll be able to land it at Jabara (KAAO) without it becoming an international event.

    I want to know how slow it can fly–I understand that a 3rd, smaller turbine drops out of a pod for slow, reconnaissance flight–withdrawing for cruise speeds. (I’d believe the target might be as slow as 100 kts)

    Wichita, keep a sharp eye out–and have your binoculars ready, looking for ‘production green’ as that is typically the color used in flight testing (final customer colors to be determined, later)

    Report back, please.

  4. Does it come with a radio control? Seriously, are there only two hardpoints on the port wing against three on the starboard? Or is that just the way the graphic was rendered ?

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