Stunning aerial photos show Textron Scorpion tactical jet in Royal Navy demonstrations

The prototype of Textron AirLand’s ISR/Strike aircraft teamed up with Vortex Aeromedia to show off its maritime capability.

The Scorpion is an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)/Strike aircraft with twin canted tails, two 8,000-lb turbofan engines, straight wings with internal weapons bay and  external hardpoints to accommodate precision guided munitions that made its first flight from McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas, in December 2013.


Developed in about 2 years and featuring a ferry range of 2,400 NM (nautical miles) and a payload of 3,000 lbs internal stores as well as underwing PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions), the two-seater is the “affordable warplane for low-threat missions,” including COIN (Counter Insurgency) and SMI (Slow Mover Interceptor).


During the Scorpion’s 2015 European Tour which brought the plane to both Paris Le Bourget Airshow and the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, UK, Textron AirLand also found the time to conduct demonstration flights with the British Royal Navy and RAF.

Working with 849 Naval Air Squadron, operators of the specialist ASaC7 variant of the Sea King in the AEW (Airborne Early Warning) and ISR roles, the Scorpion tactical jet provided valuable fighter-control experience to the Navy aircrews.


In addition, Textron AirLand tested the integration of their Thales I-Master radar and L-3 Systems Wescam MX-15 DI sensor by tracking and identifying targets up to 100 miles off the British coast.

During the demonstrations, Textron AirLand said that their $20M jet operated at less than $3,000 per hour, even with engine overhaul costs accounted for: more evidence that the aircraft is perfect match for the “low-cost combat plane to contain the cost of prolonged operations,” whose need emerged during Libya Air War 2011.


After the joint operations with Royal Navy the jet returned to the US in mid-July and is scheduled to begin weapons trials in 2016.


Image credit: © Textron AirLand/Vortex Aeromedia 2015


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a 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.


  1. I see no real need for this plane. If you want some thing super cheap. Get an F5. For less then $20m you could even get a Yak130. Not only that but if you dont mind slower speeds and smaller bombs, go drone – they are cheaper still and you can have a nice cup of tea while on the job.

    Having said that though, are the RN saying they would use this on their new carriers in place of the helicopters? If its more powerful electronics are better then the helicopters we have in place, then thats shockingly bad for us. We should have gone for catapults and Hawkeye’s…

  2. Our military needs:

    1. A new version of the A-10 for the wars we’re actually fighting not the ones the Pentagon imagines.

    2. More of these Scorpions for routine patrol duty. Using our top-of-the-line fighters for that makes as much sense as using a high-end Mercedes to deliver pizza.

    3. Far fewer F-35s.

    • Remembering the F-20 Tigershark. Of Which a couple of thousdand,
      at $ 20 million a piece would look, mighty, mighty good right now !

  3. But where’s all the news about gigantic cost over runs, faulty engines, airframe issues,
    fire, hypoxia, poor performance, missed deadlines and project objectives, fudged performance tests, acute vulnerability in every foreseeable combat environment, etc, etc,,, !?
    I thought all that was “normal” and part in parcel with US tactical aircraft programs,,,

    These guys (textron) must have really, really F&*ed up !
    BIG TIME !!!

    • It’s almost like a stealth strike fighter being developed for 9 countries and 3 US service branches is a more complex project than a light attack aircraft prototype with no stealth, supersonic, radar, vtol/stovl, carrier landing, or air to air capabilities.

  4. So what you are telling me is that a drone is way more EXPENSIVE because it seems to need far more people behind the scenes as it were? Indeed this is a feature of all aircraft ive ever seen. If you dont want the Yak130, why not go for the Italian knock off version then? Still pretty cheap.

    So what you are telling me is that once loaded up this thing has zero maintenance hours till overhaul? That is pretty impressive then. Look forward to see these patrolling the skies of London soon

    • It’s true! Also, one of the bigger cost issues is baked right into modern real time surveillance with UAV’s is the cost of satellite communications. I’m sorry I don’t remember the numbers, but I have a passing acquaintance who ran a civilian SATCOM in Afghanistan, but I do remember the price would make your eyes water, way over $1000/hr, and that’s just the drone’s communications.

      The scorpion doesn’t have ‘zero’ maintenance, but it’s certainly less maintenance/fuel intensive than an F-5.

      The Yak-130 is a really bad idea, because Russia can’t really be trusted to provide spare parts, partially because they are a shoddily run economy and it’s risky to rely on them for spares. For instance, Mig-29 engines for the IAF all have to be shipped back to Russia for depo level work … fat chance getting that done if Russia cuts your country off for whatever political reason.

      That’s the reason the Italians build their ‘knock-off’ the M-346 Master. The brochure says 35million/air frame, but it looks like the Israeli’s are going to end up paying 60 million, not 20 million.

      • Its cash bonanza time for the “contractor defence force” at the moment for sure & im sure non of the prices are amazon low. It depends on the mission. If you want to terrorise the hell out of a population, drones are awesome. There is something chilling about a robot drone 24/7 in the air, relentlessly surveying and then targeting & bombing. It instills a psychological fear that scars people deeply and that is truly awesome for any platform to be able to say that. Loose a few dozen pilots it gets politically awkward but accidentally kill a few thousand its not such a concern back home and thats where it counts. It may sound cold but politics is often a dirty game.

        The closest this thing comes to is a new generation OV-10 Bronco. They worked well in Vietnam because they were very aggressively used in very high risk situations but with higher losses. Drones now have swarm tech so operators can control more then 1 at a time. Not to mention the nice situational awareness on big screens and the ability to have a supervisor check before proceeding to destroy a target.

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