Strange Vehicles > PZL-230F Skorpion
The PZL-230F Skorpion was a prototype jet aircraft which very nearly saw production. The project was started in the late 1980s by PZL. PZL was the Polish State Aviation Works and was controlled by the Polish communist government of the time. However in 1989, after the fall of communism in the country, it became a separate corporation with the same name. Throughout this transition the Skorpion project continued.
The PZL-230F Skorpion was a compact aircraft - just 32 feet (10 m) long. It had a single pilot, twin jet engines, and was designed to accept both Warsaw Pact and NATO munitions. It was an advanced aircraft which was to use lightweight composite materials and fly-by-wire electronics. Yet at the same time the Skorpion was designed to be affordable, easy to build, well armoured for good survivability, and easy to adapt to a variety of roles. It was also designed to be able to take-off and land on comparably short runways.
Initially the design brief called for a ground attack aircraft with a top speed of 400 mph (640 km/h) and weapons capacity of 4400 lbs (2000 kg). However in 1990 the brief Polish Ministry of Defence altered its request and called for a 620 mph (1,000 km/h) maximum speed and a 8,800 lb (4,000 kg) munitions capacity. These new requirements meant the aircraft became heavier and the landing strip length required for take-off and landing increased from 250 metres (820 feet) to 400 metres (1312 feet). The redesign also included some adjustments which gave the aircraft a small degree of stealth capability.
In 1992 a full-scale mock-up of the PZL-230F Scorpion was constructed. Several other versions were also conceived including a training and air-to-air combat variant.
In 1993 the Polish Air Force approved the design and it looked like the Skorpion was destined for production. However just a year later, due to radical budget cuts in the fledgling democracy, the order was cancelled before a single airworthy aircraft had been built.
Since then, aviation experts have wondered what sort of aircraft the PZL-230F Skorpion might have been. Many say that it could well have become an extremely capable multi-role attack aircraft, perhaps gaining a similar"“tank killer" reputation as that of the A-10 Thunderbolt. It is also thought that the relatively low unit cost of the aircraft could have made it a popular export and generated much-needed income for the country. Either way it was one of the most advanced aircraft Poland nearly built.