June 16, 2015 / 10:57 PM / 5 years ago

Textron upbeat on Scorpion jet; UK plans test flights

PARIS (Reuters) - Textron Inc (TXT.N) on Tuesday said it was upbeat about the prospects of its new Scorpion light attack and spy jet, which is gearing up for 10 days of UK flight demonstrations and visits to other European countries in coming weeks.

Scott Donnelly, chief executive of Textron, told Reuters the new aircraft, which was developed by Textron and a private group named Airland Enterprises, had amassed over 400 hours of flight time since its first flight in December 2013.

The jet also recently completed a series of demonstration flights in South America, Donnelly said in an interview at the Paris Airshow.

Textron self-funded work on the jet with the goal of developing a smaller, less expensive fighter that could help cash-strapped smaller countries participate in coalition military activities.

He said those countries would likely look to the United States or other allies to activate larger fighter aircraft in the event of a conflict.

In Britain, the jet is due to carry out a series of demonstrations and exercises with the UK Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm before embarking on flight tests carried out by QinetiQ’s Empire Test Pilot’s School, said company spokesman David Sylvestre.

Donnelly declined to give details about which countries had expressed interest in the aircraft, but said the company was encouraged by its conversations with potential buyers.

He declined to predict when Textron Airland, the joint venture that runs the program, would sign a contract with an initial launch customer. He said that would likely come after some additional flights and demonstrations.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Phil Berlowitz

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