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PZL-230 Scorpion

PZL-Warszawa designed the new Scorpion attack aircraft for high maneuverability and firepower. It had a fly-by-wire control system, can achieve an angle of attack greater than 50 degrees and the manufacturer claims a projected warload of 4000 kg. A single-seat small agile battlefield attack (SABA) aircraft, the PZL-230 Scorpion was proposed for Polish Air Force requirement, to enter service after 2000. Intended for battlefield support close to FLOT, it would be able to use unprepared airstrips. The PZL-230 'Skorpion Projekt' was an ambitious attempt to provide the Polish Air Force with an affordable modern attack aircraft, in competition with IL Kobra 2000 and PZL Mielec M-97/M-99ch. Design of the Scorpion was very ambitious and require the application of modern technology which has never applied in Poland.

The first version of the Scorpion was ready in December 1988 and presented by a team of designers under the direction of Andrzeja Frydrychewicza. The experience of the group when designing the PZL-130 Orlik trainer aircraft was helpful in this case. It featured a very short take-off and landing capability. In the first version that was projected to require just 250 meters for takeoff, and 220 meters for landing. The aircraft would be fitted with turboprop propulsion and reached a speed of 640 km/h its weapons would be among others have a 30 mm cannon with a 750 rounds of ammunition, and missiles and bombs.

In 1990 the Polish Air Force increased the requirements for speed, range and payload, leading to a heavier and thus more expensive aircraft. The draft of the Scorpion changed, notably increasing the speed of the aircraft. The preliminary PZL-230 design was publicly revealed in late 1990, featuring a twin-turbofan power plant. In the new version of the Scorpion developed a speed of 1000 km/h and carried 4 tons of weaponry. These new requirements contributed to a radical change in the concept of propulsion. The propulsion was changed to twin pusher PT6A-67A turboprops in 1991, while a further redesign (PZL-230F) reverted to turbofans and slimmer profile, with further extensive redesign since then. This version was known as 230F. A model of the F version was constructed in 1992. Later variants were named D, and included a DT training variant and DB combat variant. By 1995, PZL was assessing the comparative merits of V tail and alternative twin vertical fins plus all-moving tailplanes.

Scorpion had to reach the operating ceiling of 10 km, its maximum radius of action of 300km (1 hour fight), and the length of the landing had to be 400 meters. The aircraft was to have the following dimensions: length 12.1 meters; wing span 10 meters, height-4 meters. The PZL-230 featured double-delta main wings, outer portions of which all-moving, working with close-coupled all-moving canards for simultaneous pitch and roll control as well as conventional T-O/landing function. This was stated to make possible flight at 50 angle of attack and ability to make 180 turn in only 5 seconds. Both narrow and wide angles for the outward canted tailfins were evaluated.

The Lear Astronics electronic fly-by-wire system had no mechanical or hydraulic connections to the control surfaces. The structure was mainly composites. Retractable tricycle type landing ggear, with all wheels remain partly exposed when retracted. Twin rear-mounted AlliedSignal 27.8 kN (6,250 lb st) LF507 turbofans. Integral fuel tank in wing center-section, capacity 3,500 litres (925 US gallons; 770 Imp gallons). Pilot only, under rear-hinged, upward-opening canopy. The Martin-Baker Mk 10L zero/zero ejection seat was inclined at 34 from perpendicular. The armored cockpit would protect pilot against rounds of up to 12.7 mm calibre. The composition of avionics introduced a Daimler integrated navigation system which connected three navigation systems, among others, GPS satellite navigation system, microwave system, laser rangefinder and landing MLS.

By 1991 Poland was making the transition from a communist to a capitalist economy, and the project appeared headed for cancellation. In 1993 the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Henryk Goryszewski appointed a team of experts to assess the project in terms of modern aircraft combat tasks and the reality of the implementation of this project. The team delivered a favorable opinion which contributed to the further implementation of the project. Unfortunately he soon left office and the new Government suspended the execution of the decision, which in practice led to terminating the project. Poland in the beginning of the 1990s, with the economic crisis and putting the economy on a painful transition to capitalism, did not constitute an appropriate background for such a costly venture.

The management team at PZL Okecie remained convinced that a market existed for the Scorpion and sought a partner to develop their design, eventually approaching several aerospace companies in Europe, the US and former USSR, but to no avail. The PZL-230 was rejected 1994 by Polish MoD, but development was continued for a time with company funding. The Polish battlefield aircraft was developed roughly at the same time when there are similar concepts to the West, and in the opinion of experts, the draft of the Scorpion was one of the more successful ideas for this type of aircraft.

Early version - PZL-230Later Version - PZL-230F
Wingspan10 m9 m
Length9.5 m9.3 m
Maximum speed640 km/h1000 km/h (Mach 0.85)
Service ceiling10 000 m10 000 m
Wing area16m225.40 m2
Empty weight2100 kg?
Loaded weight5000 kg (2000 kg of munitions, 770 kg of fuel)10 000 kg (4000 kg of munitions)
Rate of climb50 m/s?
Range300 km300 km
Runaway needed250 m take off, 220 m landing400 m

PZL-230 Scorpion

PZL-230 Scorpion

PZL-230 Scorpion PZL-230 Scorpion PZL-230 Scorpion

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