And Just Like That, a Fighter Jet Is Born

It may not look like much right now, but Textron's (NYSE: TXT  ) new "Scorpion" fighter jet can fly. And on Thursday, Textron proved it.


This is Scorpion. Source: Textron AirLand

Taking off from McConnell Air Force Base at 9:05 a.m. central time, test pilot Dan "Shaka" Hinson put the new plane through its paces, flying continuously for 85 minutes before landing back at base.

And not only was the flight "fantastic," as Hinson put it: Scorpion broke a sound barrier or two in going from paper concept to flying airplane in under two years flat. For comparison, it took Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT  ) roughly four years to get its F-35 fighter jet airborne. In less time than that, Textron says it could already be delivering combat jets to customers!

There's just one thing
Of course, before it can do that, Textron needs to find some customers. According to company management, if development and the certification process proceed at their present paces, Scorpion could be in production within as little as 18 months -- once it finds a buyer. So who might want it?

Well, here's what we know. Powered by twin turbofan engines, the Scorpion can reach top speeds upwards of 500 mph. That won't be fast enough to keep up with cutting edge fifth-generation fighters like Lockheed's F-35, or even a fourth generation bird like Boeing's (NYSE: BA  ) F/A-18. But 500 mph would be plenty fast to run down something like Embraer's (NYSE: ERJ  ) new A-29 Super Tucano prop-driven plane. That alone could make the plane attractive to South American nations bordering the rising power of Brazil, Embraer's home state.

Brazilian Super Tucanos on patrol. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Scorpion's beefy engines also enable the plane to carry a sizable payload of ordnance. The plane's rated to carry 3,000 pounds of bombs internally, and boasts six "hard points" along its wings for carrying extra fuel tanks and surface-to-surface or surface-to-air missiles. While the Scorpion might not last long in a dogfight against "real" fighter jets, the plane could pack a punch supporting ground troops in regions of low-intensity conflict.

One final point: Reviewing the Scorpion recently, military mag DefenseNews.com sounded particularly impressed with the plane's "82 cubic feet of modular space for communications, electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance gear." This would make the Scorpion ideally suited for border patrol, maritime surveillance and counter-narcotics missions, potentially permitting the plane to be used as a stand-in for something like the Boeing P-8 Poseidon -- which at a list price of over $200 million costs roughly 10 times Scorpion's expected cost.

Boeing's new Poseidon -- pretty, but pricey. Source: Wikimedia Commons


Speaking of which, you may have heard that Congress passed a new compromise budget bill this week. If approved by the Senate, it could put $22.5 billion back into the defense budget this year -- money that would otherwise have been cut by sequestration. Based on our best guess at what Textron will charge for its new Scorpion, that would be enough money to buy... about 1,000 new Scorpions.

In theory, and if Congress should be so inclined, of course. For now, for Textron shareholders, it's still a matter of "fingers crossed," as Scorpion awaits clearance for its sales to take off.


Scorpion still waiting on the tarmac to see its first sale. Source: Textron AirLand

Investments with firepower
Not all battles can be won with guns -- least of all, investors' epic struggle to "beat the market." But U.S. News & World Report has identified an emerging trend that "will drive the U.S. economy" for years to come. Business Insider calls it "the growth force of our time." In our new special report entitled "America's $2.89 Trillion Super Weapon Revealed," you'll learn specific steps you can take to capitalize on this massive growth opportunity. But act now, because news this actionable won't remain a secret for long. Click here now for instant access to this free report.

 

 

 

 


Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (1)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

DocumentId: 2764343, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 4/21/2014 1:16:16 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

TREND TRACKER: Get Rich When the Web Goes Dark

It's time to say "goodbye" to your Internet! One bleeding-edge technology is about to put the World Wide Web to bed. And if you act right away, it could make you wildly rich. Experts are calling it the single largest business opportunity in the history of capitalism… The Economist is calling it "transformative"... but you'll probably just call it "how I made my millions." Big money is already on the move. Don't be too late to the party – find out the 1 stock to own when the Web goes dark.


Advertisement