20 February 2019
By Jean-Michel Guhl
First displayed in public at last year’s Dubai Air Show, the Calidus B-250 is a next-generation light attack / trainer aircraft developed by the UAE firm Calidus in collaboration with the Brazilian firm Novaer, for the airframe, and with Rockwell Collins, for the navigation suite, and Pratt & Whitney Canada for the power-plant. It is specifically designed to serve the light combat and training requirements of air forces across the world.
It can be remembered by aficionados that the No.1 prototype, in overal black livery, was unveiled aircraft at the Dubai Airshow in November 2017. Faring in the armed trainer category this two-seat aircraft can support counterinsurgency (COIN) attack missions, reconnaissance (with a ventral Flir ball), and search-and-rescue (SAR) operations. It can further simulate close air support (CAS), and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) mission environments during combat training activities.
The B-250 programme was launched in 2015 and its first prototype was developed within a period of 25 months, completing its maiden flight in July 2017. Calidus plans to construct a manufacturing facility in Al Ain City, UAE, to facilitate the full-scale production of the B-250 aircraft. Yes ! It looks very much like a Brazilian Tucano… all is normal as the chief designer for the project was Joseph Kovacs, who was also a part of the design team of Embraer T/A-23 Tucano light attack aircraft flown in large numbers by the Brazilian Air Force since the seventies. But the B-250 is a much different aircraft. The aircraft features an all-carbon fibre airframe designed by Novaer. The compact airframe reduces aircraft weight and enhances manoeuvrability while extending service life as it was explained by a US engineer providing cockpit visits of the No.2 prototype to visitors.
Low-wing configuration of the aircraft enables it to generate more lift and significantly reduce the drag. Safety of the on-board crew is ensured by an optional ballistic protection system (not on display).
The under-fuselage integrates a retractable tricycle type landing gear with three single wheel units. The reinforced landing gear enables operations from rough airfields and unprepared strips. The aircraft can be fitted with a Wescam MX-15 optronics turret, and seven hard points to carry a range of weapon systems. “The avionics suite gathers information from on-board sensors and offers real-time information about runways, taxiways, complex intersections, and aircraft location.” was it specified.
The state-of-art, open-architecture cockpit houses two crew members in tandem configuration. It is fitted with two zero-zero ejection seats developed by Martin Baker. The fully pressurised and air-conditioned cockpit integrates an on-board oxygen generating system (OBOGS) to support long-range missions. The B-250 military trainer aircraft is equipped with an advanced Rockwell Collins Proline Fusion avionics suite, including large multi-functional display screens, touchscreen technology, a digital head-up display (HUD), and intuitive navigation icons. The hi-tech avionics suite gathers information from on-board sensors and offers real-time information about runways, taxiways, complex intersections, and aircraft location. The information will also enhance the situational awareness of the pilots. It also integrates a fully automatic Multiscan weather radar, which provides information on the weather conditions to the on-board crew.
The B-250, powered by a Pratt and Whitney PT6A-68 turboprop engine equipped with a multi-stage axial and single-stage centrifugal compressor, is definitely on the high edge of the market. Coupled to a single four-bladed propeller, the engine has maximum power production capacity of 1,600shp. The power-plant allows the aircraft to fly at a maximum speed of 301k. The aircraft can attain a maximum altitude of 30,000ft (9,000m) within a short span of time. It is designed to carry a maximum payload of 1,796kg and travel up to a maximum range of 4,500km. The maximum autonomy or the endurance offered by the aircraft is 12 hours.
Photo by Jean-Michel Guhl