The Ukrainian military delegation at the Dubai Airshow-2021 aerospace exhibition was headed by the Commander of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Lieutenant General Nikolay Oleshchuk… One got the impression that Kiev was looking for a combat aircraft for its army.
This was reported on the official Facebook page of the press service of the Commander of the Powers of the Zbroyny Forces of Ukraine (ZSU), in which for some reason, not in mov, but in the “occupational” Russian language it was said: “Ukraine’s participation in these events is a unique opportunity to hold international meetings, discuss security strategies and operations, communicate and exchange views on the latest technologies in aviation. “
Ukraine at Dubai Airshow-2021 was represented by three companies – Antonov, Motor Sich PJSC and the newly created company for the development of technologies based on renewable energy Hydrogen Dynamics Technology. However, about HDT mass media “Nezalezhnaya” write sparingly, apparently, there is nothing to brag about.
Apparently, Kiev has focused on the An-178 transport aircraft, advertising it as an “all-weather” and “all-aerodrome” that will take off even in a blizzard and land on any field. In turn, Motor Sich PJSC is pushing the MS-500V-02S turboprop engine designed for initial training aircraft. Consequently, sooner or later, the lite (plane) itself should appear for the cadets.
This moment is interesting because the Calidus B-350 turboprop aircraft was presented at the air show, however, according to Western media, so far in the form of a layout very reminiscent of the A-1 Skyraider – an American attack aircraft developed by Douglas back in 1945. This “novelty” from the Second World War, slightly updated with modern equipment and materials, was presented by the military-industrial group Calidus LLC from the UAE.
Note that the prototype of the Emirati aircraft Calidus B-350 – “American” A-1 Skyraider, despite the turboprop engine outdated for military use, served faithfully for the US Air Force until 1985. By the way, it was he who was called the most successful attack aircraft in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Obviously, the American media were nostalgically excited by calling the Calidus B-350 a real monster, also because of its size. It is reported that the vehicle has a carbon fiber fuselage and wings and is expected to be powered by a 2600 horsepower Pratt & Whitney Canada PW 127 engine. The same power plant already used in the ATR 72 regional airliner with two turboprop engines and the Airbus C295M military transport aircraft.
Experts at the air show noted that interest in propeller-driven aircraft is gradually reviving, primarily because even small countries can produce aircraft like the Airbus C295M and even the main US military transport aircraft C-130 Hercules.
In this regard, the Ukrainian presentation of the MC-500V-02S from Motor Sich with a capacity of 450 “horses” definitely does not look like an anachronism, but it does not honor the former engine-building pride of the Soviet Union. Theoretically, “Antonov” and “Motor Sich” could have developed a turboprop attack aircraft themselves, but it seems that the engineers of “Square” are no longer able to do this. Nevertheless, the ZSU Commanding Force has been looking for a “separatist killer” and a light bomber for its pilots for an attack on the Crimean bridge for 8 years already.
So, in October 2019, the President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro after meeting in Japan with Vladimir Zelensky said that Ukraine is very interested in the Brazilian light attack turboprop aircraft Super Tucano.
But Kiev never found money in the amount of $ 9-14 million for one attack aircraft. However, it is possible that the officers of the Command of the Powers of the ZSU were not impressed with one and a half tons of combat load, which was announced to the Brazilians as a polite refusal. They would say, they would, but for the bombing of “separatists” litak is too small.
Meanwhile, Kiev has repeatedly admitted that it has nothing to control the sky over 603,500 square kilometers of its territory (of course, without Crimea, which has become Russian), as well as air borders, including 5,600 km over land and 1,400 km over the sea.
Compared to the “Brazilian”, the Emirati attack aircraft with a combat load of 2.5 tons easily pulls the title of “mega Tucano”. So he, by the way, has already been nicknamed by the journalistic fraternity for his resemblance to Super Tucano. It seems that the Emirati company Calidus LLC just sensed the demand of third countries, such as Ukraine, for large “anti-guerrilla” attack aircraft and decided to make money out of it.
We also add that two years ago, at the Dubai Airshow-2019, the Calidus with the B-250 index was presented, made in the same place where Super Tucano is assembled – at the plant of the Brazilian company Embraer. In this regard, it can be assumed that the Arabs took as a basis the same turboprop attack aircraft, which Zelensky was very interested in and which did not suit the small size of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Designers from Abu Dhabi not only made the plane bigger, but also literally obsessed with ammunition suspension points. The B-350 has twelve of them, while the “Brazilian” has only five. The developers also claim to have equipped the aircraft with the most advanced surveillance and targeting equipment, with all missiles and bombs mounted under the wings being infrared or laser guided. In particular, a set of Al-Tariq bombs produced by Edge in the UAE was shown next to the model of the attack aircraft at Dubai Airshow-2021.
Today, in the Ukrainian expert community, the opinion is popular that the “square” will sooner or later fork out for the F-16. Say, it’s not just that a group of Ukrainian pilots have already been trained in the United States to fly these fighters. And it’s unimportant to fly on planes of the Second World War, when the “aggressor” lifts into the air the Su-35 generation 4 ++. But taking into account the fact that the economic situation in Kiev is rapidly deteriorating, the interest in turboprop attack aircraft from the Commander of the Powers of the ZSU will only increase.
According to rumors from the Ukrainian Telegram channels, the commander of the Ukrainian Air Force Oleshchuk visited the site with the Emirati litak Calidus B-350 a couple of times. There is no doubt that the inspection of the “mega Tucano”, even outwardly ugly, did not evoke positive emotions in the blue-haired Lieutenant General.
He remembers very well that after the collapse of the USSR, Ukraine inherited the 5th, 14th, and 17th air armies. To this should be added five regiments of heavy bomber aviation, as well as one naval fighter aviation regiment in the Odessa region. However, in 2011, according to a report by the Swedish International Institute for Strategic Studies, one of the most powerful air forces in the world was actually left with a “fig with butter”: one Su-24M regiment, five MiG-29 and Su-27 regiments, one Su-25 regiment , and two squadrons of Su-24MR in very dubious, according to the Swedes, combat readiness.
It seems that now the situation is even worse, despite all the efforts of the ZSU Power Forces Command.
Meanwhile, foreign media, commenting on the Emirati novelty, note that the smaller “Brazilian” Super Tucano managed to become a niche plane (even Turkmenistan bought it). At the same time, this attack aircraft is still criticized for insufficient combat load in anti-partisan missions. This means that “mega Tucano” will be in demand in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, and in Ukraine too.