Calidus unveils giant B-350 combat ISR turboprop

Calidus B350 turboprop Dubai
A mockup of the Calidus B-350 turboprop shows its heavy load (Photo by Michael Jerdev via

Abu Dhabi-based aircraft manufacturer Calidus finally unveiled a mock-up of its B-350 Border Patrol Aircraft (BPA) at the recent Dubai Airshow.

The B-350 was developed in secrecy, but some information about the project emerged in 2020 when Czech company CHARVÁT AXL announced the contract to design and build the landing gear for the aircraft.

The B-350 is primarily a combat intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform, with six weapon attachment points under each wing. The platform shown in Dubai was equipped with a wide range of air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, including AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles and GBU-12 laser-guided bombs, a retractile MX-25 EO/IR system under the nose and a Leonardo Osprey 30 AESA radar under the fuselage.

The B-350 is based on the Calidus B-250 trainer and light attack aircraft, which was unveiled in Dubai in 2017. It is powered by a 2,600 shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127 turboprop engine, the same as fitted to the ATR72 and C295M, and has a wingspan of over 50 feet. It boasts a maximum take-off weight of around 9 tons.

At first glance, the B-350 may look very similar to the Embraer/Sierra Nevada A-29 Super Tucano or Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine, but looking at the photos with people at its side, it is evident that it is much larger than other combat turboprops on the market. As noted by some media, it is similar in size to the Vietnam-era Douglas A-1 Skyraider aircraft.

Calidus B350 turboprop Dubai
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Thinking about the target market for the B-350, we think it can be positioned in the same as the armed turboprops mentioned above, satisfying the needs of nations that need anti-insurgency aircraft. However, compared to other platforms in its class, it can offer greater weapon capacity, more sensors and defensive aids, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. This could offer the B-350 an extra boost if it is marketed at a price close to that of smaller turboprops.

Written by Matteo Sanzani

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