Italy’s Piaggio Aerospace has announced that it will deliver its first P.1HH Hammerhead unmanned aircraft system this summer. The first units will be delivered to the United Arab Emirates, the company’s launch customer. The P.1HH Hammerhead
is based on Piaggio’s sleek, Ferrari-approved P180 Avanti II business turboprop. Rapid deployment inside larger aircraft is engineered by adding a quickly detachable joint for the outer wings, and the high aspect ratio laminar wings have been stretched to a 50’10” wingspan. The Hammerhead was initially designed as a surveillance only UAV, but there is more than sufficient space for weapons if customers choose this option. The only key limitation to equipping the drone is its 500 kg payload maximum. Piaggio is already
looking in to the development of its next UAS, designated P.2HH. The P.2HH will bring about increased capability by way of key design changes, namely a larger fuselage structure for increased internal volume and all-new, wider-spanning composite wings for increased endurance. Deliveries of the new system are scheduled for early-2020.
At present, the USA and Israel have strong global leads in the UAV field, especially in the area of plane-sized Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) class or larger machines. That lead is eroding quickly, however, as new countries and firms decide that UAVs offer a useful niche with manageable development costs.
Poor US policy is also helping to drive this trend, and the new P.1HH “Hammerhead” UAV is a classic example. Italy is likely to become the initial customer for this high-performance UAV, but the platform itself and the Italian firm that makes it have strong connections to the UAE…