Although the official star of the Farnborough Airshow never made it there due to a catastrophic engine fire, the Scorpion by Textron AirLand Enterprises has been getting plenty of attention. While not as stealthy as the F-35, the plane uses advanced composite materials and off-the-shelves components, significantly reducing its purchasing cost. The plane's operating costs are a meagre $3,000/hour, versus an F-16's $18,000/hour, making it an ideal candidate for border control, reconnaissance and maintaining no-fly zones.
The Scorpion costs about $20m (£12m) a throw, is built from off-the-shelf components, and went from drawing board to first flight in 23 months.
The F-35, costing three times as much and conceived in the early 1990s, is still in the US while engineers figure out what caused a fire that has grounded the entire fleet.
OK, making comparisons is unfair; the Scorpion and F-35 are lightyears apart in specification and functionality. But it is still slightly ironic.
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