QinetiQ, Thales and Textron AirLand have announced a collaboration that will offer the Scorpion jet for the UK’s upcoming Air Support to Defence Operational Training programme.

According to a press release, the operational training activities that will comprise the ASDOT programme are currently fulfilled by a number of providers, both military and civilian. This team will propose an innovative, cost effective, technologically advanced reliable managed service using the Textron AirLand Scorpion jet equipped with Thales and QinetiQ sensors to provide a broad spectrum of training for all three armed services. The competitive contract, expected to be awarded in September 2018 with a service delivery start in Jan 2020, is anticipated to be worth up to £1.2bn over 15 years.

Steve Wadey, QinetiQ CEO, said:

“Our test and evaluation pedigree makes us ideally placed to introduce the highly capable Scorpion for use in the ASDOT programme. Our people are experts in cost effective aircraft operation, providing significant savings to the MOD while offering the highest standard of support to UK defence operational training. Collaborative working of this nature is vital within the aerospace and defence industries, and I believe this partnership puts us all in a strong position to succeed.”

Victor Chavez, Thales UK CEO, said:

“Through this unique partnership with QinetiQ and Textron and the complementary expertise within our respective fields, we have the opportunity to offer all three armed services the most effective, cutting edge technology coupled with world leading training and services expertise. The UK Ministry of Defence will be able to benefit from the collaboration of technologies and knowledge to deliver important long-term Air Operational Training services.”

Textron AirLand has developed the Scorpion, they say, as a highly affordable and exportable twin-engine ISR/Strike/Trainer jet for the tactical military aviation market.

They further describe the aircraft as:

“A versatile jet platform based on leading-edge technologies, Scorpion is designed as a multi-mission aircraft for diverse battlefield, security and training missions.”

Listed on the London Stock Exchange, QinetiQ is a leading science and engineering company operating primarily in the defence, security and aerospace markets. Their customers are predominantly government organisations including defence departments, as well as international customers in other targeted sectors.


    • No, the role is currently performed via the MoD’s 020 Electronic Warfare training outsourced air support contract which is delivered by Cobham Aviation Services using civil-registered Falcon business jets.

      However, the MoD is currently scoping out the provisions of an aggressor-based air support to defence operational training (ASDOT) contract using a military platform.

  1. Fingers crossed they get it. Cracking lil jet, much cheaper than a Hawk to operate as well.

    Werent the RN looking at them as a surveillance aircraft recently. They did trials with the Seaking AEWs

  2. I’m confused buy this. If Hawks are being replaced buy Hawk T2, and the Tucanos (sorry about spelling) buy the new Harvards. What role will this jet do, and how many can we expect?

    • Hawks and Harvards are for training pilots, the Scorpion proposal is for ASDOT, Air Support to Defence Operational Training program, which is for training the services against a cheap but capable aggressor.

  3. If they could create a ground attack missile that didn’t cost £100k plus a pop, these could make a very useful addition to the front line forces against low tech opposition, mainly because i assume a pilot that can fly a sub-sonic jet needs less training than one to fly a f35/typhoon (in addition no need to learn air/air combat etc) and could even be TA. Just a shame that the missiles are so expensive, which makes it make no real economical sense, plus even if it did policitically it wouldn’t happen as questions would get ask why we are spending so much on 138 f35’s when a much cheaper jet can do most of the job.

    It should however be a good training jet.

  4. “However, the MoD is currently scoping out the provisions of an aggressor-based air support to defence operational training (ASDOT) contract using a military platform”

    So is this aircraft just going to fulfil the role currently carried out by the Falcon “EW Aggressor and missile simulation” or is it going to provide “Red Air” as well?

    Will it replace the twin engine Alpha Jets down at Boscombe Down?

    Looking at the specifications it has the payload bay and hard points, but does it have the time on target to provide everything the Falcon can? Does it have the power to generate the electrical power needs to simulate different threats etc?

    Does this release the funding margin required to purchase or lease proper Red Air like the JAS 39 (used by ETPS and for Meteor Trials by QinetiQ)?

    This could also release the rest of the money the RAF need to purchase the final batch of Hawk T2 required (more importantly as BAES haven’t won ASDOT it would keep production going) to replace the remaining T1’s that are out there, including the Red Arrow platforms that are starting to show their age.

  5. Why out source at all, whilst I appreciate that it makes perfect cost effective sence with private companies you also have issues with cut backs and cutting corners for profit where as in house you only have to deal with cut backs ?!!. In today’s environment everyone has cutback issues but if it’s in house a least u know what is being cut and where the corners are missing !!


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