Assisting First Responders From The Sky
Last year the aircraft participated in Operation Vigilant Guard 2014, a large-scale military exercise involving a multi-state disaster response sponsored by U.S. Northern Command and the National Guard Bureau. During Vigilant Guard the Scorpion provided aerial reconnaissance and the real-time transmission of full motion video and communications in support of other aircraft, ground stations and other emergency responders reacting to mock threat scenarios. In other evaluation flights the Scorpion successfully intercepted a low level, and slow speed (low-slow) flying threat aircraft below 100 KTAS, demonstrating its suitability for the Low Slow Threat Aircraft Intercept Requirement as outlined in the NORAD Operation Noble Eagle Defense of North America mission.
Another application foreseen for the aircraft is training. It deployed for four days to the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School (TPS) for evaluation as part of Class 14B students’ “Capstone” exercise, to determine its suitability as a T-38 replacement for the TPS curriculum. During the four days, Scorpion completed nearly 20 flight hours, on 12 flights, with 100% mission availability, on time. (For perspective, most U.S. tactical jets fly 20 to 25 hours per month). The average maintenance turnaround time from Scorpion landing to “released for flight” was 38 minutes— the best turn was 15 minutes.