One of the big surprises at the Dubai Airshow proved to be the public unveiling of the mock-up of the Calidus B-350, a large turboprop-powered attack aircraft. Equipped with 12 underwing hardpoints, the B-350 can carry a huge array of weaponry, ranging from precision-guided bombs to air-to-air missiles for self-defense.
The B-350 follows on from the Novaer-designed Calidus B-250, which appeared at Dubai in 2017 and is on show again this year. The much larger B-350 takes the turboprop trainer/attack/counter-insurgency aircraft to a whole new level. Power comes from a 2,600-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127 turboprop and the wingspan extends more than 50 feet. Maximum takeoff weight is in the region of 9 tonnes. As well as the 12 hardpoints, the B-350 has under-fuselage carriage points for sensors, including a large multi-sensor targeting/surveillance turret, and radar/electronic warfare antennas.
The plethora of wing stores and powerful engine have drawn comparisons with the legendary Douglas Skyraider of Vietnam war fame. However, the two-seat B-350 is a thoroughly 21st-century aircraft. Like the B-250, it is mostly constructed of carbon-fiber composites.
Powered by a 1,600-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68, the earlier B-250 is also an advanced/weapons trainer and light attack platform akin to the AT-6 Wolverine and AT-29 Super Tucano. It has seven hardpoints for up to 3,960 pounds of stores and can carry an electro-optic/infrared targeting turret. At the 2019 Dubai Airshow, the UAE announced an order for 24.
Calidus is also marketing the B-250T, a dedicated trainer version with a 950-shp PT6A-62 engine. The company markets the aircraft as both a basic and advanced training vehicle, with virtual training functions such as radar and sensor simulation, simulated air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons, and night vision goggle compatibility offered to meet advanced training requirements.