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Textron touts Scorpion to Bulgaria in bid to secure first customer

Source: IHS Jane’s 360

Textron AirLand has demonstrated the capabilities of its Scorpion aircraft to Bulgaria and others, as it looks to secure a first sale of the type during a post-Paris Air Show tour of Europe, the company disclosed in early July.

The tandem twin-seat and twin-engine jet, which is being touted as a modern, cheap, yet capable multirole platform, is being pitched to Bulgaria as that country looks to update its ageing combat aircraft inventories.

Bulgaria has been reported to be looking at surplus Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon jets to fulfil a MiG-29 ‘Fulcrum’ and Sukhoi Su-25 ‘Frogfoot’ replacement requirement, and other offerings such as early model Eurofighter Typhoons, Saab Gripens, and even the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex/Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (PAC/CAC) JF-17 Thunder have also been touted.

In the case of the Scorpion, however, it was reported by national defence aerospace publication Списание АЕРО that this particular aircraft is being touted as a possible replacement for the Bulgarian Air Force’s Aero L-39ZA Albatros light strike fighters, and as a support platform to the ‘new’ main fighter type.

First revealed in September 2013, the Scorpion jet has been developed to suit a wide range of mission sets that include counterinsurgency, border patrol, maritime surveillance, counter-narcotics, and air defence. The aircraft is built around a 2.3 m 3 payload bay in the centre of its fuselage that can accept a variety of sensors and weapons systems, depending on the mission, up to 1,360 kg, and has six underwing hardpoints – three on each side – to carry additional sensors, fuel, or weapons up to 2,766 kg. Company-supplied performance specifications give the Scorpion a top speed of 450 kt, a service ceiling of 45,000 ft, and a ferry range of 4,450 km.

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