Future Light Attack - Textron Scorpion

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11 years 9 months

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Very interesting announcement today, the Textron (Cessna) Scorpion light attack aircraft: www.scorpionjet.com Aviation Week: Textron Unveils Scorpion Light Attack, Recce Jet The Scorpion demonstrator is intended to whet the U.S. Air Force's appetite with the promise of a low procurement and operating cost. The pitch is for this aircraft, which is optimized for 5-hr. endurance with onboard intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) collectors and weapons, to handle the Air Force's low-end missions such as U.S.-based interdiction, quick-reaction natural disaster support and air sovereignty patrols. www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/AW_09_16_2013_p22-615375.xml 2 seat, twin engine light attack jet Max speed: 450 knots Endurance: 5 hours @ 150nm Payload: 9,000 lb (6,000lb internal fuel, 3,000lb internal payload bay, 6 hardpoints) All-composite, 20,000-hour life airframe Two 4,000lb thrust TFE731 turbofans Weight, empty & MTOW: 11,800 - 21,250 lb (5,350 - 9,650 kg) http://www.scorpionjet.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/TAL-Cover3.jpg http://www.scorpionjet.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/TAL-Cover1.jpg http://www.scorpionjet.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Scorpion-External-Stores1.jpg http://www.scorpionjet.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Scorpion-External-Stores-cu.jpg http://www.scorpionjet.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Vignette-IrregularWarfare.png
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6 years 5 months

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so what advantage does this jet have over an Su-25?

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11 years 9 months

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so what advantage does this jet have over an Su-25?
1) Cheaper to operate, probably. And still relatively affordable to buy, thanks to Cessna's economies of scale (and the 20,000 hour airframe life) 2) Far superior Western avionics that can be shared among planes (FLIR sensors in the ISR payload bay, podded countermeasures etc) 3) Excellent endurance (5hrs at 150nm) Downsides: no armor.

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See it as a modern T37. And there is a real market for this. Interestingly, it seems they had the possibility to field a side by side seating but rejected the idea (perhaps on the ground of the fact that most of the time the plane will be operated by a single pilot) The wing/inlet interference provide a very interesting geometry with its diffuser like outlet on the trailing edge of the wing roots. They choose to field a double vertical tail instead of a single one with a lot of cant angle. Probably that the large surface of the central body (for the fitting of a massive weapon/sensor bay à la WB57 certainly) would hve a lead to a very massive vertical tail with a detrimental impact on empty weight and mass distribution. The large cant angle might provide redundant control in case of a missile hit. It appears there is some provision for IR missile passive protection. That include the wide gap btw the two engines (no masking) The wing appear to hve been the subject of a strong debate and/or hesitation. But I don't want to speculate here. All the tails surfaces field classics ctrl including the tail surface what is odd for the dive limitation that it will impose on the plane in the CAS role. A transonnic capability might hve eased pilot workload but the straight wing would hve had to be swept. The statement that Textron tried to make a large use of composite to create a very light airplane, won't really comfort the pilots flying it in OP. Given that this type of airplane are more chosen by airmen than politicians,...

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11 years 9 months

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The payload bay dimensions are approx. 4.25 x 0.90 x 0.45 m (L x W x H, measured on drawings). Good for 2 GBU-12s or a 25mm GAU-22 gun pod, plus fore & aft sensors (e.g. FLIR, SAR radar). TomcatVIP, the max speed is 450 KTAS. Hopefully the wing can handle a bit more in a dive, even though it's very straight. Should be more than enough for CAS?

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Just like an A10. Yes you can see it like that. But this is not a Hog... I wld certainly prefer to seat in a J6 when the manpads start flowing ard ;)

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11 years 9 months

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It's not really an A-10 replacement. The A-10 isn't going to be replaced. Sad but true. It's a replacement for the A-37, OV-10, L-39, MB-326/339. A COIN aircraft that also has the payload/range to do real combat CAS missions over lightly defended air space like over Libya/Kosovo. If manpads are a threat it can just stay at high altitude like everyone else. If you have grunts on the ground in trouble, you're better off sending this down low than an F-35.
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See it as a modern T37. And there is a real market for this.
Remind me - how many L-159s have been sold? And how many did the Hawk 200 sell?

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I don't see much market opportunity for this. US is struggling even with funding the light turbo prop strike aircraft and most poorer operators prefer cheaper to operate turboprops in COIN role ala EMB312/314 and PC-7. These have been replacing a whole heap of jets ala A-37, AT-33, Strikemaster and MB-326. Countries that can afford combat aircraft prefer larger multirole jets.
If you have grunts on the ground in trouble, you're better off sending this down low than an F-35.
As we've seen in Libya and Syria (and Croatia, Angola, Vietnam etc etc) sending low armoured jets/aircraft is risky. There's not just MANPADS to worry about but also light AAA ala 14.5mm, 20mm and 40mm systems. This is the main reason A-10 and Su-25 are heavily armoured and why modern Russian/US helo gunships ala AH-64 and Mi-28.
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It's plastic... I wonder how well it will handle hits from AAA.

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Remind me - how many L-159s have been sold? And how many did the Hawk 200 sell?
Or AMX.

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Just like an A10. Yes you can see it like that. But this is not a Hog... I wld certainly prefer to seat in a J6 when the manpads start flowing ard ;)
Super Tucano already take much of the market for this one. The countries that not need Super Tucano can choose AH-64...Sooo...yup don't think much market left for this one.

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I don't see much market opportunity for this. US is struggling even with funding the light turbo prop strike aircraft and most poorer operators prefer cheaper to operate turboprops in COIN role ala EMB312/314 and PC-7. These have been replacing a whole heap of jets ala A-37, AT-33, Strikemaster and MB-326.
No, in fact the turboprop is only marginaly cheaper. A military operator won't even notice the cost difference. Let's compare two very similar civilian platforms: the PC-12 (6,500lb light turboprop) versus the Citation Jet 4 (10,000lb twin turbofan). Critics will complain that the CJ4 guzzles fuel and has two engines. And indeed, it at first blush it costs twice as much per flight hour: $1,800 vs. $750. BUT, the CJ4 flies 50% faster and 30% farther than the PC-12. Once you adjust for the jet's much shorter block times, the cost difference is reduced to only $500 per hour. Now $500/hr may be a big deal in the civilian world, but it's peanuts for a military operator. The overall mission cost will be dominated by all the other factors like pilot training, avionics maintenance and weapons costs. Not to mention that the jet's extra speed, payload, range and survivability makes it much more useful. IMHO that's why this annoucnement is a big deal. We have a potential Super Tucano killer.
As we've seen in Libya and Syria (and Croatia, Angola, Vietnam etc etc) sending low armoured jets/aircraft is risky. There's not just MANPADS to worry about but also light AAA ala 14.5mm, 20mm and 40mm systems.
I guess it's time to throw away all those F-16s, Migs and Mirages then. Wait... there aren't ANY customers for new-build Su-25s and A-10s. Gosh, wonder what they know that you don't? :p

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No, in fact the turboprop is only marginaly cheaper. A military operator won't even notice the cost difference. Now $500/hr may be a big deal in the civilian world, but it's peanuts for a military operator.
Clearly it's important to military operators and especially third world operators who seldom have enough money for maintenance or fuel or training. And it's going to be third world types to whom this kind of platform appeals, not the more high end who just load up on supersonics. As stated it's why Hawk 200, AMX and L159s are relative flops and why EMB-314 and PC-7 are replacing jets in service. You also forget the maintenance costs of 2 engines over 1.
IMHO that's why this annoucnement is a big deal. We have a potential Super Tucano killer.
Probably not.
I guess it's time to throw away all those F-16s, Migs and Mirages then.
You were talking about "going low." Going low puts you in range of AAA and trash fire. NATO fast burners usually do medium-high altitude strikes and with modern laser designators etc, even CAS is performed at high altitude (e.g. B-52 or B-1). Going low is usually done in 0 threat environments (e.g. a bunch of Taliban or Iraqi insurgents holed up in a house and where risk of civilian casualties is too great. In those cases they don't even drop ordnance most of the time.
Wait... there aren't ANY customers for new-build Su-25s and A-10s.
Maybe because they are out of production and there is no profitable market for new builds. As stated, most air forces prefer supersonic multirole whilst the poorer ones go for turboprops (also double up as primary/advanced trainers) and helicopter gunships (usually Mi-35 and armed Mi-17 variants).
Gosh, wonder what they know that you don't? :p
You know they thought same thing about AMX (0 export sales), Hawk (3 export sales totally under 100 aircraft), L-159 (0 sales with maybe 1 in pipeline as LIFT for Iraq) and even IA-63 Pampa (0 export sales). There's other examples out there too - aircraft that never want past drawing board or prototype phase. Meanwhile what has sold for light attack and recce roles: EMB-314 Super Tucano Mi-35 Hind second hand Su-25s (in numbers as small as 2-4 aircraft mainly to African states) AH-64 Apache and other Western helos UAVs Civilian planes with observation equipment e.g. Cessna 208 Caravan

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I don't see much market opportunity for this. US is struggling even with funding the light turbo prop strike aircraft and most poorer operators prefer cheaper to operate turboprops in COIN role ala EMB312/314 and PC-7. These have been replacing a whole heap of jets ala A-37, AT-33, Strikemaster and MB-326.
I agree on its likely success. I would like to see this program go somewhere, but I just don't expect to see it happen. Operators tend to either have money or not have it. If they have it, they tend to buy higher end capabilities. If they don't have money... well it doesn't much matter what they might want because they don't buy much of anything.
As we've seen in Libya and Syria (and Croatia, Angola, Vietnam etc etc) sending low armoured jets/aircraft is risky. There's not just MANPADS to worry about but also light AAA ala 14.5mm, 20mm and 40mm systems. This is the main reason A-10 and Su-25 are heavily armoured and why modern Russian/US helo gunships ala AH-64 and Mi-28.
Yes, this aircraft would really only be suitable for use against very lightly armed insurgents, or in environments where it could conduct operations from higher altitudes. This concept would not be worth much in a scenario where it needed to get low in an environment where the enemy is shooting back. I also notice that they included no internal gun, which I find a little bit odd. A gun is useful both as a weapon and as a means to demonstrate intent in both CAS and air policing missions. I suppose the aircraft could be outfitted with a podded gun, but I suspect this aircraft really isn't intended for use down low at all.

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Clearly it's important to military operators and especially third world operators who seldom have enough money for maintenance or fuel or training. And it's going to be third world types to whom this kind of platform appeals, not the more high end who just load up on supersonics. As stated it's why Hawk 200, AMX and L159s are relative flops and why EMB-314 and PC-7 are replacing jets in service. You also forget the maintenance costs of 2 engines over 1.
I agree that the light jets you mentioned have been failures (AMX, Hawk, L-159, Pampa). They are expensive, short-legged and lacking in payload, so no wonder that turboprops like the Super Tucano & PC-7/21 have been more successful. The reason this time may be different, is that this is a very different animal from previous light jets. Essentially Scorpion is a bizjet-like (Cessna) platform, optimized for payload/range as well as cost. Just look at the engine choice & wing. Bizjets have done very well against turboprops, even in the cost-conscious civilian market. Simply because their performance edge often more than makes up for their higher costs. The military market puts a lot more value on performance, and a lot less on saving $500 per hour, which should work in Scorpion's favor. P.S. The $500/hr cost difference I keep quoting includes the maintenance cost difference of 2 engines vs. 1.

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The military market puts a lot more value on performance, and a lot less on saving $500 per hour, which should work in Scorpion's favor.
The problem is the multi-role who put value on performance buy multi-role supersonics. This type of aircraft seems suited for a third world environment as opposed to 1st/2nd world who go multi-role supersonic. Ther third world can't afford much at all. PC-21 hasn't been adopted for light strike. Most operators that utilise their old PC-7s in light strike role only do so because they can't afford to replace them. So what is the market for this jet? - Europe - NO - North America - NO - Central America - Mexico. Anyone else is too poor to afford anything and relies on US aid. - Latin America - Maybe someone like Peru but that's about it. Most of the light jets have been replaced by new EMB-314s in recent years and most other A-37 operators cannot afford new aircraft (Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina). - Middle East - NO - Africa - NO - not many could afford it and those that could buy supersonics. - Asia - maybe Thailand and Philippines. So this thing looks at best the equivalent of a Hawk 200 in sales or at worst nothing at all.

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No, in fact the turboprop is only marginaly cheaper. A military operator won't even notice the cost difference. Let's compare two very similar civilian platforms: the PC-12 (6,500lb light turboprop) versus the Citation Jet 4 (10,000lb twin turbofan). Critics will complain that the CJ4 guzzles fuel and has two engines. And indeed, it at first blush it costs twice as much per flight hour: $1,800 vs. $750. BUT, the CJ4 flies 50% faster and 30% farther than the PC-12. Once you adjust for the jet's much shorter block times, the cost difference is reduced to only $500 per hour. Now $500/hr may be a big deal in the civilian world, but it's peanuts for a military operator. The overall mission cost will be dominated by all the other factors like pilot training, avionics maintenance and weapons costs. Not to mention that the jet's extra speed, payload, range and survivability makes it much more useful. IMHO that's why this annoucnement is a big deal. We have a potential Super Tucano killer.
No..it will not be potential Super Tucano Killer..it will be potentialy 'killed' by Super Tucano.. Who's the market for this one..? First class AF..? Who can considered the difference of maintanance of turboprop and turbofan as insignificance like you say ? No..they will not even bother to take a look on this class of fighters. It's the third world market that is the potential market..and for them operating COIN like Super Tucano will provide them with state of the art COIN fighters, in the turboprop operational cost. For that market..the difference on operational costs that you think insignificance..is a real deal matter for most of 3rd world military operators. It's interesting concept, but the truth is no big market for twin turbofan COIN fighters. A single engine turboprop with decent electronics and sensors can provide most of the COIN and recce jobs that this fighters offered, with more economical operational costs. Btw, for Hawk 200, Indonesian AF as the biggest operators of Hawk 200 actualy was not interested with the Fighters. The contract in the 90's happen only because the BAE 'agent' make sweet deal with then Indonesia 'dictactor' family. So with less dictactor in third world right now, you can see the effort to sell that as 'light fighters' will increasingly facing much less demand. The only thing left is COIN market..well then it faced the mighty and yet economical Super Tucano...well a good market prospect for this one.

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EMB314 is also handy for training. Also EMB314s PT6 engine is used by a whole heap of other aircraft often found in other aircraft used by smaller operators - Beech B90, B200, Air Tractors, T-34Cs, DHC-6s, PC-6s, PC-7s, BT-67s, Y-12s, Pipers and Cessnas (and even the old IAI Aravas if any are still operational). This simplifies logistics and training. Also many small operators don't operate any jet aircraft, so a turbofan equipped aircraft brings moe complexity into the mix.

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Textron have also chosen a wierd time to get into this market. It made sense 10 years ago when the US was engaging in Iraq and Afghanistan. But no now when the emphasis is shifting towards focusing on conventional threats in Asia Pacific.