Calidus B-250: Local Solution for Armed Trainer Needs
Claiming a special place at the Dubai Airshow, the B-250 is a local aircraft which is being offered to regional air forces for pilots’ basic training, as well as in the more aggressive roles of close air support (CAS); intelligence, surveillance & reconnaissance (ISR); counter-insurgency (COIN); and persistent air support (PAS).
Abu Dhabi-based Calidus, hitherto known an industrial machinery and equipment company, burst onto the aeronautical scene exactly two years ago when the B-250 prototypes — one flying, one statically exhibited — were unveiled at DWC, to general surprise, on the opening day of the show.
Since then, they have been evaluated by the UAE Air Force, flying test sorties in local military colours; and exhibited at Abu Dhabi’s IDEX last February. At the latter event, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, was shown over the B-250 by Saif Alkaabi, the Calidus vice-president, marketing. The outcome of that head-to-head might become known during this year’s Airshow.
Project ‘Bader’ was begun by Calidus in 2015, when the Brazilian Novaer company was commissioned to produce the design of a light attack turboprop, the full intellectual and production rights of which would be held by the UAE. Looking at the B-250, it is easy to believe that the basic shape was formulated by Joseph Kovács, who had been responsible for the Embraer Tucano.
Novaer built the two prototypes in Brazil and they were flown to the UAE inside a Boeing C-17A shortly before the 2017 Airshow.
Powered by a 1,600 shp (1,193 kW) Pratt & Whitney PT6A-68 driving a four-blade Hartzell constant-speed propeller, the B-250 has a maximum speed of 350 kt. (648 km/h) and a service ceiling of 35,000 ft. Modern methods of construction include an airframe largely of carbon fibre, while the retractable, nosewheel-type landing gear is strengthened for operations from unpaved runways. Collins Aerospace supplies the Pro Line Fusion avionics, including two large screens for each of the tandem occupants.
Artists’ impressions of the B-250 often show an impressive array of weapons hanging from the centreline hardpoint and three more under each wing. Typical weapons might include AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles; Tawazun Dynamics P3 250 lb. laser-guided bombs; and various rocket pods. There is also a sensor-turret below the forward fuselage which could be used for target-designation and surveillance.
Up to three external fuel tanks will stretch unarmed endurance to 12 hr. More commonly, the B-250 can attack a target 560 nm (1,037 km) from base, carrying four bombs, two Sidewinders and one external tank; or undertake electro-optical reconnaissance at a radius of 1,180 nm (2,185 km).