Dubai, UAE, 12 November 2017 — One of the surprise military highlights of the recent Dubai Air Show is certainly the all black B-250 powered by a single 1,600 shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-68 turboprop engine showcased for the first time in public by the Abu Dhabi-based Calidus aerospace company — this after a several months-long « guess what » campaign on Internet and on FaceBook ! This new light attack and counterinsurgency (COIN) aircraft is an original UAE military aircraft with a clear « home-made » tag. As such it is the very first marketed by the United Arab Emirates defense industry, already well installed in the manufacture of military land vehicles and drones. The new aircraft is actually the result of a private venture between some American partners teaming up with an UAE investment group well decided to set foot on this well-trodden aviation market.
The B-250 — also designated locally « Al Badr » (or Full Moon in Arabic) — designed primarily in collaboration with the Brazilian company Novaer Craft from São José dos Campos (SP) with Rockwell Collins in the USA — for the advanced Pro Line Fusion digital avionics suite including a HUD and optional electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) turret like on the Afghan and Colombian Super Tucanos — is a turboprop-powered light combat aircraft (with seven external hard points) very similar to the Beechcraft T-6C Texan II or Embraer A-29 Super Tucano now flying in numbers with various air arms around the globe. In fact the B-250 really seems to be a cross-breed between the two above-mentioned aircraft, and for some good reasons. However it is unclear if the B-250 will see any domestic adoption (in Brazil or the UAE).
Novaer Craft who started working on the very hi-tech carbon composite B-250’s streamlined airframe in 2015 is certainly not a newcomer in the aerospace industry. The company’s lead designer is no other than the Hungarian-born Josef « Zé » Kovács, a famous aviation engineer who became a Brazilian citizen after he designed, exactly 50 years ago, the Neiva T-25 Universal, an all metal training aircraft which replaced the North American T-6 Texan in Brazilian Air Force service. The T-25 still is today, along with the Embraer T-27 Tucano, the main propeller-driven basic trainer of the Academia do Ar of the Força Aérea Brasileira in Pirassununga (SP). It was also exported to Bolivia ; Chile and Paraguay. Despite his age (now 90 !) Zé Kovács has contributed in designing several Brazilian light aircraft, including the prototype of the new all composite four-seat T-Xc which is hoped to become the FAB’s future basic trainer according to the president of Novaer Craft, Graciliano Campos, who intends to launch serial production in Lages, Santa Catarina, whenever a formal contract is signed, perhaps around 2020…
Needless to say that the light attack aircraft slot is somewhat crowded nowadays… Beechcraft Textron with the T-6C, Embraer/Sierra Nevada with the A-29, Pilatus with the PC-9, IOMAX/Airtractor with the Archangel, Korean Aerospace Industry (KAI) with the KT-1 Woongbi, and now Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) with the Hürkuş C and Diamond with the Dart 450 are all vying for a fair place on the world stage. With their lower acquisition and operating costs and their powerful and flexible choice of weapons, including machine gun pods, rockets and PGMs, it is clear that all these aircraft perfectly fit the limited CAS role required today by many air arms having to fight terrorist groups. This capacity was well demonstrated by the Fuerza Aérea Colombiana whose AT-27 Tucano and A-29 Super Tucano crews largely contributed in squelching the armed Marxist rebellion and winning the decades-long Colombian civil war through their well-planned COIN operations against the hidden FARC and ELN leaders. //