Nov 4, 2014
UAE Negotiating Possible Scorpion Purchase
The talks are proceeding, including discussions between top Emirati officials and Textron’s CEO.
The Scorpion is designed to be an ISR plane with strike capabilities.
UAE is eyeing the Scorpion for its aerobatic squadron Al Fursan, which flies the Alenia Aermacchi MB-339.
A source said a purchase for Al Fursan would be a first step in a larger relationship.
The UAE selected Alenia Aermacchi’s M-346 trainer in 2009, with an eye toward buying 48 aircraft, preferring it to the Korean T-50. But the deal then reportedly was entangled in a side deal to sell UAVs to the UAE, which was halted by technology transfer rules. Neither side has made an announcement since on the fate of the deal.
An Alenia source said that since the UAE’s selection of the M-346, nothing has changed.
In August, the Scorpion team told Defense News it is developing a trainer-specific variant of the jet. That design would keep the twin-engine, twin-tail design of the basic Scorpion while shortening the wings from 47 feet to make them more aerodynamic, as well as increasing the thrust in the engine.
The industry source said Textron has had discussions, albeit preliminary, with Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Indonesia, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, with Malaysia and Brunei the most likely to bear fruit.