Textron Airland LLC announced on May 23, that its new Scorpion jet will fly from Wichita, Kansas, to the United Kingdom to appear at two major defence aviation exhibitions. The new Scorpion intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR)/strike aircraft prototype, N531TA (c/n 721001), will participate in the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, from July 11 to 13, immediately followed by the Farnborough International Air Show in Hampshire, from July 14 to 20.
The flight to Europe comes just six months after Scorpion’s first flight on December 12, 2013. Since that time, Scorpion has completed 41 test flights for a total of 77 hours. “We’re confident that the Scorpion will excel in its first international flights, travelling about 4,700 nautical miles to the UK this July,” said Bill Anderson, president of Textron AirLand. “The aircraft has passed all of its early testing milestones and now we’re excited about demonstrating its long-range performance,” he added.
In recent flight tests, the company says Scorpion has proven to be very reliable and agile, reaching a top speed of 0.76 Mach or 455 KTAS. As a high subsonic aircraft, Scorpion will be accompanied by another powerful jet during its flight to Europe. The prototype Cessna Citation Sovereign+ business jet—capable of 460 KTAS—will serve as the chase aircraft, observing and recording Scorpion’s performance and carrying the ground support crew. The Scorpion-Sovereign+ pair will follow a northern route, leaving Kansas in early July and traveling through Canada and the Nordic nations before arriving in the UK.
The roundtrip distance of nearly 10,000nm (18,50km) will be logged as part of Scorpion’s rigorous 2014 testing programme, which is expected to reach 300-400 test hours and some 150 flights by year’s end.