In a time when NATO states have decided to increase their defense budgets in the context of the Western Ukraine conflict and Russia’s expansionist intentions, a project of Textron Corporation Airland, taunted by many when announced, became increasingly interesting.
Those from Textron Airland have worked for years to find a way to build fighter planes, cheaper than those on the market.
BBC.com relates how, this year, at the military equipment fair from Farnborough, one of the most important events of its kind in the world, everyone expected the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II plane to be the star, also known and as the Joint Strike Fighter, a plane of 100 million dollars that will soon enter the air Force of many Western countries. Unfortunately, the motor unit that was supposed to do a demonstration broke and it has not happened. Taking advantage of the opportunity, the Textron Scorpion plane, a “toy” five times cheaper than the F-35, inveigled the participating experts.
Even though you can’t compare the performance and usefulness of the well-known fighter planes such as the Lockheed F-35, F 22 Raptor, Eurofighter Typhoon or Boeing F / A-18, unit Textron has some advantages not insignificant nowadays – quickly assembled, easy to handle, can be delivered faster than other planes and, last but not least, cheaper.
Unlike the F-35 Lightning II model from Lockheed Martin, whose design-build has taken almost ten years, and the production takes a few more years before they can be delivered to beneficiaries, Scorpion “made” the way from the drawing board to its first take off, in a record time of two years.
How was it possible?
The main secret of the Textron Airland is that they decided to use pieces that are already produced for other similar aircrafts. Secondly, they designed nearly all parts at smaller dimensions. In the case of more complex fighter planes, everything is designed from scratch and many parts are produced specifically for them – for example, the model F-35 is equipped with a specially designed motor, which raises its final cost significantly.
Although they are not the most advanced fighter planes available in the market, journalists from BBC show that on the market there are already a lot of potential customers. Firstly there are those armies that need some smaller aircrafts capable of carrying out reconnaissance missions and to fulfill combat missions – especially the armies of those states which either did not have airplanes before or have some, which are very old. Secondly, there are those countries that already have or are developing sophisticated fighting machines but may decide to purchase less expensive equipment and a large number of these cheaper planes. In the third category are those states – military powers – which could also buy jets for reconnaissance missions or simple missions, with low risk.
Those from Textron LandAir are not the only ones who also thought to build “low-cost” fighter planes, with the price hovered around 20 million dollars. China is already developing similar devices – JF-17, a supersonic airplane that has already been sold to Pakistan. Russia also produces the Yak-130, but the plane is mainly used for training pilots.