Textron's Cheap Scorpion Jet Fighter

The Scorpion
The Scorpion
Hitler's He-162 jet
Hitler's He-162 jet

Making cheap jet fighters first began in late 1944 and into 1945, when Hitler looked to his jet fighters to win the war. In an effort to do so, Hitler demanded that his new jets were made of cheaper materials. One of his jet production used wooden wings. Amazingly, the jet flew well for the most part (there were some mishaps where the wings fell off).

Today, the rising costs of military jets is astronomical in development and production to do fairly mundane things, like, patrol, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Textron has built such a modern jet from off-the shelf products called the Scorpion. It is a two seater jet with a five hour endurance and costs only $3000 per hour to operate compared to $25,000 of a F-16 that does the exact same missions! In Afghanistan and Iraq, F-15s, F-16s and A-10s have been used for patrols and close air support in completely uncontested airspace. This is the niche market Textron hopes to dominate. In fuel consumption alone, using the Scorpion could save one billion for the USAF.

The Scorpion is capable of carrying 3,000 lb. of weapons or intelligence-collecting equipment; the aircraft also has six hard points total. The twin Honeywell TF731 engines were selected to provide ample power providing a top speed of 520 mph and a range of over 2700 miles. The engines create 8000 pounds of thrust. It sells for only $20 million.

Textron plans to build 2000 of them for sale on the world market. Similar aircraft start at $12 million each and reach $45 million for the higher end, so this jet will appeal to many foreign countries that are on a tight budget. The USAF is somewhat interested in this for limited use.

By comparison, the He-162 jet made in 1945 had a top speed of 560 mph, 600 mile range and armed with a 30mm cannon. It first saw combat in April, 1945. It only had a flight time of 30 minutes! It was not the most successful jet fighter of Hitler's airforce, but still, could fly circles around most prop aircraft.

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