Italian business aircraft manufacturer Piaggio is at the Dubai air show to garner interest for its Hammerhead medium altitude, long endurance (MALE) unmanned air vehicle (UAV).
The P.1HH Hammerhead, which is due to fly by the end of this year, is being displayed in mock-up form for the first time here following its official launch at neighboring Abu Dhabi’s IDEX defense exhibition last February. Europe’s largest MALE UAV, Hammerhead is a derivative of Piaggio’s distinctive Avanti twin-turboprop executive aircraft.
A batch of 10 is already on order by the Italian air force to supplant the air arm’s fleet of General Atomics MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers. The Italian government has been supporting the project, both with funding and the use of personnel and facilities. HammerHead testing is taking place at Italy’s Sardinian testing ranges and the Italian air force is managing its military certification.
According to Piaggio, Hammerhead is designed for 16-hr. endurance with a payload of 500 lb. (225 kg) at maximum fuel capacity. With less fuel it could carry a payload (mission sensors/equipment) of up to 2,000 lb. up to altitudes of 45,000 ft. Weapons and other external stores and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) equipment could also be carried on pylons attached to the forward fuselage. Weapon payload will be limited to 500 kg so that the system is not covered by the Missile Technology Control Regime.
Piaggio has a close relationship with the UAE, as it is 41% owned by the Abu-Dhabi Mubadala development company, although Tata Limited, the U.K. arm of India’s Tata Group, announced in October that it was increasing its stake in Piaggio to 44.5%.