Scorpion jet on runway at McConnell Air Force Base

Textron and AirLand Enterprises joint venture Textron AirLand has successfully completed the first flight of the Scorpion intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) / strike aircraft, off the McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas, US.

During the mission, the aircraft performed a range of flight handling manoeuvres for approximately 1.4 hours, meeting all requirements.

Featuring ease of maintenance and globally-available commercial components, the aircraft is powered by twin turbofan engines and has a cruising speed of up to 517mph with a ferry range of 2,400nm.

Textron’s CEO, Scott Donnelly, said the first flight marks a major milestone for the aircraft, while the programme transitions into the flight test phase.

"When the design phase began less than two years ago, we were confident that we would deliver a uniquely affordable, versatile and tactical aircraft by taking advantage of commercial aviation technologies and best practices," Donnelly said.

"It showed impressive stability and responsiveness."

"Today’s flight met all expectations, and keeps us on track towards certification and production."

Designed to meet the increasingly stringent budget constraints of the US Department of Defense and US partner nations, the Scorpion can be used to conducted missions including irregular warfare, border patrol, maritime surveillance, emergency relief, counter-narcotics and air defence operations.

Scorpion pilot, Dan Hinson, said: "It showed impressive stability and responsiveness, closely matching all of the predicted parameters for today’s manoeuvres – it’s going to be a highly capable aircraft for the ISR and homeland security mission set."

The Scorpion aircraft can transition easily between low speed and high-subsonic speed and can carry an internal payload of up to 3,000lbs, as well as wing-mounted precision munitions.

Image: Textron AirLand’s Scorpion ISR / Strike aircraft on runway at McConnell Air Force Base. Photo: courtesy of Business Wire.

Defence Technology