Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2018-03-22

Scorpion’s Next-Gen Combat Redefines Small Air Forces

The new Textron  Aviation Defense LLC Scorpion is a bold, adaptable multi-role tactical jet with unparalleled acquisition and operating costs. It was introduced in 2013, completing several hundred hours of flight testing with exceptionally high mission-availability scoring. To date, Textron’s fleet of four Scorpion jets have conducted operations worldwide and logged more than 1,400 flight hours.
 
Scorpion is a multi-mission aircraft offering diverse capabilities for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), armed reconnaissance, close air support, maritime security, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and advanced training. Aircraft features, including twin-engine power, tandem cockpit, large internal payload capacity, high-definition ISR cameras, wing-mounted weapons stations, modern avionics and all-composite structure, mean the Scorpion excels in locating and eliminating enemy targets precisely and quietly. 
The Scorpion has a length of 13.25m, wing span of 14.42m and height of 4.26m, with a standard weight of 5,352kg. The internal payload bay accommodates a weight of 1,360kg, while the aircraft carries a maximum payload of 4,286kg.
 
Extraordinary Jet Speed
Scorpion is jet fast with the ability to reach an escalating situation quickly, but can maneuver at much lower speeds if the mission requires it. 
Quickly reconfigurable, Scorpion’s expansive interior payload bay is provisioned for sophisticated ISR systems, capable of being weaponized with a variety of weapon sets including precision-guided munitions (PGMs) for precision strike. During missions, Scorpion has the ability to see and exploit perishable intelligence and strike-fleeting targets, bringing tactical advantage to the most demanding situations.
 
Although performing light attack, armed reconnaissance, domestic interdiction, air patrol and training, as a light aircraft the Scorpion focuses on low threat battlefield missions, while rugged enough to sustain minimal damage. Unlike most ground attack aircraft, the Scorpion uses many commercially-available off-the-shelf components for business jets, mostly from the Cessna inventory. Cheap to buy and operate, it outperforms turboprop aircraft in range, endurance, dash speed and sensors and — as a budget alternative for small foreign militaries requiring tactical aircraft — the Scorpion thus fills the gap between light turboprop aircraft and expensive jet land attack aircraft.
 
The latest version of the Scorpion incorporates several improvements based on target customer feedback and results from Textron’s rigorous flight test program led by DoD test pilot school graduates with decades of U.S. military developmental and operational test experience. The Scorpion’s modular and scalable architecture facilitates future upgrade requirements, ensuring the platform can evolve with changing defense needs. Developers claim that an ISR/Attack flight hour of the Scorpion costs only $3,000, far below other Western purpose-designed turbojet attack aircraft, with one flight hour of the F-16 costing around $25,000. 
 
The Scorpion has a ferry range of 2,400nmi, while the Scorpion base cost per unit is expected to be $20 million (before mission equipment options), which is less than the upgrade cost of the A-10 or F-16. The corrosion-resistant airframe also offers 20,000 hours of service life. 
 
Rapid Operational Development 
Scorpion made its international debut at the Royal International Air Tattoo in July 2014, but in three years of flight operations, the fleet of four Scorpions has self-deployed to ten countries, amassing more than 1,400 flight hours in test and real-world settings.
 
The world-class workforce and facilities of Textron Aviation have enabled the Scorpion to progress from a clean-sheet design to first flight in less than 24 months as one of the fastest developments of a U.S.-built tactical jet.  
 
Another prime example of the jet’s rapid operational development is that, based upon operational preferences, Scorpion implemented an optimized auto-mode software functionality within a mere two weeks of U.S. Air Force initial flight at the 2017 Light Attack Experiment at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico. A feat that typically takes years and costs millions of dollars to accomplish within government. 
 
The world-class workforce and facilities of Textron Aviation have enabled the Scorpion to progress from a clean-sheet design to first flight in less than 24 months as one of the fastest developments of a U.S.-built tactical jet. 
 
Honeywell Turbofan Engines 
Scorpion is powered by two Honeywell TFE731-40AR-3S turbofan engines, punching 8,000 lb of thrust for a maximum speed of 450 kt (518 mph, 833 km/h) and a service ceiling of 45,000 ft (13,700 m). These engines are widely used on commercial business jets and cost significantly less than purpose-designed military engines and are easier to service. 
During test flights, pilots have reported the Scorpion to be agile and powerful even when flown on one engine. The aircraft has eliminated fly-by-wire to simplify the design and keep the costs down. It has the capacity to carry a fuel load of 2,721kg, with the engines burning Jet-A, JP-5 and JP-8 jet fuels.
 
Hardpoints and Payloads
The Scorpion’s six external hard points carry a total of 6,200 pounds of ordnance in a variety of configurations for mission needs. The inboard stations (3/4) are also plumbed for additional external fuel tanks to extend operational reach, while MIL-STD-1760 connections and NATO standard 14-inch lug ejector racks interface with a wide range of international weapons.
 
Scorpion’s massive internal payload bay provides critical operational flexibility to incorporate new payloads, scaling tactical systems performance to meet operational capability needs rapidly. Its modular architecture ensures rapidly reconfiguration of mission payloads, including sensors and weapons for diverse missions, significant acquisition cost savings, operation flexibility, reduced logistics footprint and training benefits. 
 
Next-Gen Tandem Cockpit
The Scorpion is a two-seat aircraft, but can be flown by a single pilot. The two cockpits are equipped with advanced multifunction color displays to present flight, aircraft performance, navigation and weapons information. 
 
The night-vision compatible cockpit also offers instrumentation for weather radar control, display of external video and digital In-Flight Sensor Playback for Forensic Analysis. Scorpion has Built-in Flight Management System, Class-B Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS), Dual Inertial Reference System, Dual Global Positioning System/Satellite-Based Augmentation System (GPS/SBAS), Display of External Video (Mission Processor, EO/IR, etc.) – Sensor Agnostic, Garmin Synthetic Vision Technology (SVT) and Touch-screen control panels. 
 
Multiple combat sensors
The Scorpion can carry multiple sensors to deliver precision weapon tactical advantage through three payload bays and six hard points. The aircraft has a nose mount for electro-optical and infra-red sensor, retractable when not in use to minimize drag.  
 
The aircraft offers dedicated mission sensor systems for border security, maritime patrol, irregular warfare support, law enforcement, counter narcotics and humanitarian assistance/disaster response missions. Moreover, it can carry precision guided munitions with laser or GPS guidance. 
 
During the U.S. Air Force’s Light Attack Experiment at Holloman Air Force Base in 2017, the Air Force evaluators were so impressed by the Scorpion’s performance and maturity that they added two Scorpion sorties to the experiment to test operational scenarios in which pilots and joint terminal attack controllers (JTACs) coordinated the location and identification of targets and the simulation of weapons employment on identified targets. Scorpion performed flawlessly. 
 
The Scorpion’s weapons include Hydra-70 unguided 2.75-inch rockets, BAE Systems’ Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) and AGM-114F Hellfire Missiles. The weapons are guided to their targets using a ground-based laser designator system first and then an airborne laser on the Scorpion’s L-3 WESCAM’s MX-15Di sensor suite.
Most recently, Scorpion employed four APKWS guided rockets, 14 unguided rockets, two GBU-12s, and expended 1,960 rounds of 0.50 cal during its 20 sorties for the 2017 Light Attack Experiment at Holloman Air Force Base.
 
Diverse Mission Capability 
With the ability to perform countless diverse missions, the Scorpion™ offers one-of-a-kind ISR/Strike capabilities at unmatched value. The aircraft is also future-proofed, uniquely capable of integrating sensors and mission packages as threats and missions evolve. 
 
Close Air Support (CAS)
When friendly troops are in close contact with the enemy, Scorpion has the power to sprint at 450 KTAS to the scene, before finding, targeting and employing appropriately scaled kinetic effects. The Scorpion’s diverse ISR and strike capabilities use multi-spectral sensors on-board processing and the ability to self-designate targets through the weather for precision engagement. 
 
Irregular Support Missions
Scorpion has the unique capability to place scaled effects on targets, providing manned, persistent surveillance and tactical command-and-control within one mission. For planned or emergent targets, Scorpion uses its electro-optical/infrared sensor to receive, refine and process off-board information to coordinate command and control agencies with local ground forces, then deliver a wide range of guided weapons on target while remaining on-station. 
 
Maritime Security Missions
Scorpion is a force multiplier for maritime patrol with on-station times exceeding four hours and area coverage enabled by jet speeds. Equipped with an array of sensor and communication packages, Scorpion allows coordination between law enforcement communication devices so nations can record and patrol territorial waters more affordably than previously possible. 
 
Aerospace Control Missions
After contact with an unidentified low and slow aircraft, Scorpion can scramble, launch and reach 400+ knots for the intercept, identifying aircraft at range through on-board and off-board systems in maneuvering speeds as low as 100 knots. Scorpion can escort aircraft effectively while maintaining a relative position where scaled “non-lethal to lethal” effects can be employed. 
 
Tactical Jet Training
Scorpion is the ideal tactical training platform from the basics of jet operations to employing multi-spectral sensors and precision guided weapons. The complex, multi-faceted training of future tactical aircrews demands an aircraft that transitions intermediate pilots through advanced jet training, while “downloading” 4th and 5th generation training tasks cost-effectively. 
 
Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Response
Following a natural disaster, the re-establishment of communication systems can take days and weeks. Here Scorpion can function as a critical communication node to support first responders, while also providing on-scene persistent and wide-area surveillance. With its ability to self-deploy and maintain an on-station time exceeding four hours, the manned Scorpion re-establishes communications and brings support to first responders within hours of a serious event. 
 
As an example, the U.S. Northern Command and the Kansas National Guard has previously relied on Scorpion for its VIGILANT GUARD training exercise for more than 2,000 local, state, and federal emergency responders. Scorpion equipped agencies with color High Definition multi-spectral aerial reconnaissance full motion video that delivered vital up-to-the-minute incident awareness to the Joint Task Force Commander and enabled communications with other aircraft and ground stations during a broad spectrum of emerging, simulated disaster events. The Commander relied on Scorpions 100% mission availability rate and ability to equip him with the rapidly changing data he needed to successfully direct operations.
 
Border Security Missions
Scorpion provides an ideal platform for National Defense and Homeland Security forces to conduct border security operations. This manned aircraft can perform wide-area surveillance and provide real-time video of select points of interest to law enforcement authorities. 
 
The Scorpion delivers unprecedented capability and operational flexibility across the national airspace. With multiple payload options for sensors and scalable payloads combined with on-station times exceeding four hours, the Scorpion is perfect for National Guard units or customs and border protection operations. 
 
Counter Narcotics Missions
Launching from 100-200 miles out, Scorpion is positioned to meet mission requirements for counter-narcotics and counter-trafficking missions. It remains on station up to nearly five hours and provides full-motion video records meeting the legal standards of international courts. The Scorpion can also receive linked information and provide line-of-sight communications to deliver accurate geographic location information to law enforcement or defense agencies that need to be on-scene to counter transnational threats. 
 
Photo/Text: www.scorpion.txtav.com
 

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درع الوطن :: مجلة عسكرية واستراتيجية ::
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