Textron AirLand continues to search I for a customer for its Scorpion light attack airplane, but it will have the chance to prove the aircraft's capabilities to the Air National Guard in August.
Civardsmen will not operate the Scorpion, which will be flown by a Textron test pilot during the demonstration, said Dale Tutt, the aircraft's chief engineer. However, the Guard will have access to intelligence and reconnaissance data provided by the aircraft during the mock search-and-rescue operation at the Smoky Hill Air National Guard Range near Salina, Kansas.
"The premise for the exercise is a tornado goes through Kansas and hits a train carrying chemicals, so you're dealing with a large chemical spill cleanup," Tutt said. "We'll circle for a couple hours, transmitting full motion video of the area to the Guard members, and then we will return to base."
The Scorpion was developed by a joint-venture of Textron Inc. and AirLand Enterprises and has been funded by the companies without any government money. The companies are marketing the aircraft as a low cost way to accomplish missions such as irregular warfare, border patrol, maritime surveillance, emergency relief, counter-narcotics and air-defense operations.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh has said it is unlikely that the service could afford new aircraft beyond its three priorities: the F-35 joint strike fighter, KC-135 tanker and a new long-range bomber. However, Textron AirLand is continuing to brief Welsh on the Scorpion, and executives believe the possibility still remains for procurement by the National Guard, said Paul Weaver, a consultant to Textron AirLand and former director of the Air National Guard.
"I believe that he and the secretary have left room and are also looking...