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Dubai Airshow 2021: Calidus bulks up with B-350

15th November 2021 - 12:45 GMT | by Leonid Nersisyan in Dubai

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Calidus displayed its B-350 single-engine large turboprop combat aircraft and potential armament at the Dubai Airshow 2021. (Photo: Leonid Nersisyan)

The Calidus B-350 is bigger than its B-250 predecessor, with a 50% heavier MTOW and twice as many hardpoints for weapons.

UAE-based defence industrial group Calidus LLC used the first day of the Dubai Airshow 2021 to unveil the Calidus B-350 single-engine large turboprop combat aircraft, which is a further development of the Calidus B-250 Bader that was first demonstrated in Dubai in 2017.

A full-size mockup of the Calidus B-350 with a large set of airborne weapons, including guided munitions, is on display during the exhibition on 14-18 November.

The Calidus B-350 aircraft was developed in some secrecy but information about the project and some of its characteristics was made public in late 2020 by the Czech company CHARVÁT AXL, which received a contract to design and build the landing gear for the B-350.

According to CHARVÁT AXL, the Calidus B-350 retains the layout and all-composite design of the B-250 but it is a ‘huge turboprop aircraft’, with a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 9t and a wingspan beyond 16m. The aircraft is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127 turboprop engine with a maximum power output of 2,600hp and a six-blade propeller.

The B-350 is relatively heavier than other turboprop attack aircraft on the market today. (Photo: Leonid Nersisyan)

There are 14 hardpoints for armament. Unofficial data indicates a maximum payload of 3,840kg for the B-350. Its main landing gear strut is 1.7m high and weighs 130kg.

By comparison, the Calidus B-250 aircraft has a wingspan of 12.8m. No official MTOW data is available but it is estimated to be about 6t.

The B-250 is equipped with a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68 engine generating take-off power of 1,600hp. The aircraft has seven external armament suspension units with a total weight of up to 1,800kg.

The B-350 is heavier than turboprop attack aircraft from other manufacturers. The Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano, for instance, has an MTOW of 5,400kg and a wingspan of 11.14m, while the Beechcraft AT-6B Wolverine has an MTOW of 4,536kg and a wingspan of 10.4m.

By its characteristics, the B-350 aircraft is closer to the famous old Douglas A-1 Skyraider attack aircraft (MTOW 11,400 kg and wingspan 15.25m).

The B-350 has a tandem two-seat cockpit. Under the fuselage of the B-350 exhibited at Dubai, there is an impressively sized EO installation. According to some sources, the B-350 may have been developed with a bid in mind for the 75 crewed strike aircraft in the US Special Operations Command's Armed Overwatch requirement.

The B-350 features a dual-cockpit configuration. (Photo: Leonid Nersisyan)

However, the UAE-made aircraft was not on the list of initial platforms that were selected for tests in May 2021.

The contract for CHARVÁT AXL, apparently awarded in 2020, will see the Czech firm deliver landing gear kits for three B-350 flight prototypes within three years, with the first kit within 18 months. The company emphasised that the development of the aircraft is supported by the UAE government.

At the Dubai Airshow 2017, the Calidus group presented the B-250 Bader two-seat turboprop light combat all-composite aircraft. The actual designer and manufacturer of the B-250 was the Brazilian company Novaer, and the chief designer of the B-250 was Joseph Kovács, a Brazilian aircraft designer of Hungarian origin working for Novaer.

Kovács was the main creator of the Embraer EMB-312 Tucano and EMB-314 Super Tucano. It can be assumed that Novaer is also the developer and manufacturer of the B-350 prototypes.

At the 2019 Dubai Airshow, Calidus Group signed its first order, worth about $260 million, to deliver 24 B-250 aircraft to the UAE Air Force. Calidus had planned to build a production facility at El Ain in Abu Dhabi for mass assembly of the B-250, but there has been no information to date on the progress of this project.

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