IDEX 2019

Saudi tie-up for the B-250 [IDEX19D5]

21 February 2019

One of the more eye-catching exhibits on display in the IDEX exhibition halls is the Calidus B-250, the innovative light attack aircraft that is to be built at a factory in Al Ain.

Yesterday, Calidus (Stand 04-C15) announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with GDC Middle East from Riyadh to jointly explore market opportunities in the Middle East/North Africa region, and to develop in-house capabilities.

For GDC Middle East, the agreement represents an opportunity for Saudi industry to "jointly develop the platform's mission system and weapon integration", according to CEO Fawaz Alsharabi, who added: "The programme will bring high-end technology capability and highly skilled jobs into the Kingdom."

Such initiatives are in line with Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, which aims to significantly diversify the Kingdom's economy, with the accent on technology.

Calidus was founded in 2015 as a defence technology development and manufacturing company. The B-250 aircraft was unveiled at the Dubai Air Show in November 2017, when one aircraft participated in the flying display and another was exhibited in the static display.

The B-250 was created in collaboration with Novaer of Brazil, and the programme went from start to a flying prototype in just 25 months. Intended primarily for light attack and armed ISR duties, the B-250 is also capable of conducting training missions.

A key feature is its carbon-fibre construction, which results in a lightweight airframe. Power is provided by a 1,600shp Pratt & Whitney PT6A-68 turboprop.

Maximum speed is 301kt and service ceiling is 38,000ft. The B-250 has an endurance of 12 hours and a range of 2,400nm. Calidus claims an operating cost of less than US$1,200 per flying hour.

Weapons can be carried on six underwing and a centreline pylon, with a maximum payload capacity of 1,800kg. The full-scale mock-up at IDEX is displayed with Desert Sting-16/35 glide weapons and Thunder-P32 laser-guided bombs from Halcon Systems, and a pod for ESSS/LIG Nex 1 LOGIR imaging infrared-guided rockets.

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