Back in 2018 while in a hotel in El Paso, Steve Dixon, CEO of Full Throttle Aerial UAS, drew up the concept of a large cargo delivery drone on a piece of paper. Two years later, he saw that there hadn’t been much movement with this class of aircraft. OEMs were sticking to developing smaller sized drones. So, he decided it was time to take out his original conceptual drawings and get to work.
“My oldest son drafted up the aircraft from my drawing, and my partner put it into CAD. Then we sent everything off for tooling and, within 28 days, we did our first flight with the Scorpion XL,” said Dixon.
The speed at which Dixon and his team was able to go from concept to working prototype comes from many years of experience of building American-made drones like the Falcon, Interceptor, CETAN, and others. The result was an incredibly powerful, robust heavy-lift vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAS that can be easily assembled by a two-person team in less than 30 minutes.
“I’m particularly proud of its power,” stated Dixon. “The Scorpion XL provides three times the power of an R22 Helicopter—that’s 336 Kilowatts of power versus 115 Kilowatts—and will lift a 1,000 pounds like it’s not even there. It’s robust too. To test it, we dropped it from 100 feet up in the air and was able to get it back flying in about 15 days with minimal cost.”
That power and ruggedness makes the Scorpion XL ideal for many heavy-lift applications beyond standard cargo transportation, including providing quick extractions off the battlefield of injured warfighters to aerial crane applications for things like cell towers.
“There are many different applications for this aircraft for both military and civilian use cases,” explained Dixon. “We have three different configurations that can fit different needs enabling it to transport a wide array of cargo into a wide variety of operating environments.”
Once airborne, the Scorpion XL can operate up to 6 hours with a top speed of 50 mph (80 kph) with a maximum flight range of 200 nautical miles and an elevation ceiling of 10,000 feet (3,048 m). It can operate in winds of up to 50 knots and has the capability to deploy in rough terrain, launch from forward operating bases, and maneuver for launch and land from confined spaces no more than 5 meters in diameter, making it ideal for executing those particularly challenging missions where it might not be safe or possible to send out a vehicle or crewed aircraft.
In addition to its hardware capabilities, the Scorpion XL is also equipped with a sophisticated operating system. It can be pilot controlled or execute autonomous missions, depending on mission parameters. Its smart software modules and advanced warning and correction systems enables it to operate safely beyond the capabilities of most traditional UAS. Many of its systems are activated automatically and inform the extended mission special operations transport by audio announcements and visual feedback. These features free up the pilots to concentrate on other operations during flight, such as ensuring important mission critical outcomes.
The Scorpion XL joins a series of NDAA compliant, 100% American designed, sourced, and crafted aircraft made by Full Throttle Aerial, a point that Dixon is particularly proud of.
“It’s time for America to lead in drone manufacturing,” emphasized Dixon. “People are looking for alternatives to Chinese-made drones and Full Throttle is ready to provide them with a better solution.”