This is the Scorpion, a jointly developed project from Textron and AirLand, that purports to be an ultra-affordable light attack fighter that can be used mainly on intelligence, surveillance and recon (ISR) missions.

As for why it's at an exercise for the National Guard, that's slightly more complicated. See, the Scorpion isn't part of the US military's arsenal, although the companies behind the project would certainly like it to be. Instead, it debuted last year and has been shopped around, with a particular focus on potential sales to the Air National Guard, thanks to its low cost.

Its appearance at Vigilant Guard 2014, a guard exercise that brings together units from across the US for training, was sort of an audition for the plane. The jet provided ISR of the exercise at no cost to Uncle Sam, while also giving the guard brass a tantalizing look at the new plane's capabilities.

"So it was mutually beneficial, because we wanted to see what we needed to do and prove what we said we could do, and we have done well beyond that in just these short three days," Paul Weaver, a former head of the ANG and an advisor for the Scorpion, told Defense News of the plane's participation in the exercise. "We're extremely satisfied and happy with what we have."

According to Weaver, the average cost of flight time in the Scorpion is a mere $2,700 an hour. That still sounds like a lot, until you realize that an F-16 costs about $22,500 per hour, while an F-22 costs around $68,000 per hour. Pair that with an expected per-unit price of less than $20 million, and the Scorpion's appeal, particularly to the ANG, becomes evident. The question is, will the US military move on that low price tag.

What do you think? Is an affordable, do-everything fighter just the solution the USAF and ANG need to counter the high-dollar troubles of the F-22 and F-35? Have your say in Comments.


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  • 117 Comments
      jsharkbytes
      • 4 Months Ago

      Post 9/11 the military has been patrolling the skies over every major city in the US using f-16s..Not to shoot down attacking enemy aircraft but to have the capability to shoot down hijacked jet liners ,That can't shoot back..Seems to me at the time we could have used a cheap patrol aircraft to accomplish this same mission..Using f-15,16,22s,or 35s over the friendly skies of the united states makes no sense..

      lodgebrook
      • 4 Months Ago

      No substitute for the Warthog. (PERIOD)

      Warthog should be owned and operated buy 

      the Army, Navy and Marines!


      Louis Choquette
      • 4 Months Ago

      The unit price of the A-10 Warthop is the same as one of these but much more capable and versatile. Keep the A-10 and forgetabout the Scorpian.

        Mike
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Louis Choquette

        And the Warthog is one of the best flying weapons ever.  

        princeoffools
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Louis Choquette

        The A-10 is a ground attack plane. The scorpion is supposed to be a fighter. Different roles to fill

        K
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Louis Choquette

        Louis,

        Sadly, the unit cost you allude to is in '70's dollars.  A new built A-10 in current dollars would be well over 100 million, with a per hour operating cost approaching $10,000/Hr.  Most of the A-10 fleet has met or exceeded their airframe fatigue lifespan and unfortunately, those old airframes have to go.

        K

        Bandit5317
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Louis Choquette

        The A10 is awesome, but it is utterly worthless as a fighter. It's slow and heavy. Sure, it's armed to the teeth, but that's only for ground support.

          njwallick
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Bandit5317

          It only fails in the air to air role because anything else would if possible disengage and outrun it or engage at a distance with a long range missile. The A10 has carried and effectively utilize the AIM-9, can survive hits and return fire, it's cannon outguns any other aircraft short of a Spectre gunship and it can out maneuver most fighter aircraft.

        avl14
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Louis Choquette

        The US is a fool for downing the A-10 Warthop they really should keep just keep it's style and upgrade it as tech advances. And for sure now with the current wars we seam to be fighting, it is the best aircraft for the job, and can take lots of abuse.

        Ed Cerni
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Louis Choquette

        A "fighter" with no guns or ammo?? C'mon lets get real and call it what it is.  

      Len Simpson
      • 4 Months Ago

      Ike said---" Beware the military/industrial complex"

      rmt_1
      • 4 Months Ago *Edited*

      After reading stories regarding the development problems of the F35, the $20 Million Scorpion seems quite appealing at first, but for the money, unmanned drones will likely be its biggest competition. As drone development continues and capabilities increase, Air National Guards will eventually have to begin transitioning to more unmanned-biased training and operational programs. If Textron and AirLand had used their off-the-shelf approach, that they used on the Scorpion, for developing a drone with the Scorpion's operational capabilities, I honestly don't think they would have had any problems on finding customers. As for the Scorpion airplane, it unfortunately reminds me a lot of the old Northrop F20 Tigershark program and the best way to save it may be to repurpose the plane for both the non-military jet trainer and high-end civilian markets, where it would not face the export restrictions a plane with military-applications would have. In an era where $2 Million supercars have waiting lists and Boeing 737s and 767s are owned and used as private jets, marketing and selling the Scorpion as the "supercar" of jets for the super wealthy is not unimaginable and could give the jet a better chance for a future than the F20 even had.

      jpweg5
      • 4 Months Ago
      Take that money and keep the A-10 flying. And kill the F-35 Lawn Dart!!
        princeoffools
        • 4 Months Ago
        @jpweg5

        The A10 is a ground attack plane used for close air support. The scorpion is being advertised as a fighter. Different roles to fill.

        BRETT
        • 4 Months Ago
        @jpweg5

        r u kidding? the A-10 platform is about 40 years old. it is not stealthy. it is not an F-18 super hornet. it is very good at what it is does, but unless they build new ones, it will be history. i have heard that there are plans to replace it with the F-18. they would fit F-18's with similar equipment to take ove the A-10's job.

          jr
          • 4 Months Ago
          @BRETT


          dude this is about replacing army and air national guard equipment not going to fly off into battle. they have better aircraft and equipment for that, did you read the fine print about vigilant guard ( meaning national guard ) smh. it is not a bad alternative since taxpayers and lawmakers are crying about cost and budget cuts or the A-10 which is a bad ass plane which has helped out and ive personally seen in action on deployment.

          Denny
          • 4 Months Ago
          @BRETT

          The scorpion looks like a cross between a hog and a hornet.  Maybe more speed and more armor.  Needs loiter time though.  I like the concept though.

      azurmendi
      • 4 Months Ago

      What we need is not more planes at less cost that can.t do the job of what we have,,,,, but more intelligence which might prevent the 9/11's and the loss of a two-star general while maintaining the most powerful military in the world.

      David Fisher
      • 4 Months Ago

      Keep  the  F-22.  It's  the  best  fighter  in  the  world. Russian  fighter  jets  would  blast  it  out  of  the  sky.  Sorry,  but  if  we're  going  into  battle  let's  send  the  best  we  have.

      Jerry
      • 4 Months Ago

      Comparing the Scorpion to modern day fighters is like comparing apples and oranges - they have different missions!  The Scorpion is a modern day OV-10 from the Vietnam era.  You wouldn't compare the OV-10 to the F-4, F-14, etc.  

      XT6Wagon
      • 4 Months Ago

      better than the F35, It doesn't set itself on fire or crack if you use it more than a couple times. 

      RLCHITWOOD
      • 4 Months Ago

      It "Is an affordable, do-everything fighter"?  Now who wrote that?  The Director of Marketing?

      Kris
      • 4 Months Ago

      I am a retired master sargeant that worked in the avionics maintenance branch. I maintained; the auotmatic flight controls, supervised the manual flight control maintenance, instument panel gages for engine, fuel quantity, and navigation. This aircraft would be better for the regular air force because of the short time airmen are assigned to a base before being reassigned to another unit with completely different aircraft with different missions. National Guardsmen are permantly assigned to a unit with it's aircraft for years and the full time and "weekenders" master the maitenance of very sophisticated aircraft and it's systems. I had 8 years in the regular USAF before my 19 years in the Air National Guard. Of that 19 years in the Guard I maintained the A-7D attack aircraft. In the regular USAF my initial training was with fighter aircraft but after working on fighter aircraft for 5 years I was assigned to a B-52 and KC-135 unit for my last three. This is very typical  of regular USAF career assignments. 

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