Paris Air Show 2015: Italian Counterpart Of The Predator Drone
During the Paris Air Show, the Italian Piaggio company showcased its MALE class UAV – the P1HH HammerHead. It was developed on the basis of the P.180 Avanti II airplane. The manufacturer’s representatives claim that this is an intermediary solution within the European UAV market, until the moment when a joint platform is developed, as a result of the agreement signed by Italy, France and Germany a month ago.
However, even as an “intermediary” solution, HammerHead is quite interesting. As it is stressed by the representatives of the Piaggio company, even with a full load, the aircraft is capable of achieving speeds up to 350-360 knots – twice as high as the maximum speed attained by the US-made Predator UAV. Maximum speed of the P1HH UAV is close to 460 knots. The aircraft has no stealth capabilities which are to be one of the key features of the prospective European MALE UAV platform, thus it may be treated solely as an intermediary solution and as a test platform for the technologies that are intended to be utilized by the new design. Despite the above, the Piaggio UAV constitutes an interesting alternative for the US made or for the Israeli remotely piloted aircraft.
During the Paris air salon P1HH HammerHead was presented solely as a scale-model, since the prototypes are involved in a test programme, the aim of which is to introduce the new aircraft into service next year. However, the presented example was painted in accordance with the scheme used by the Italian Air Force. The front part of the aircraft featured the 28 Gruppo symbol – 28 Gruppo is the first UAV squadron operating within the Italian Air Force that is going to use the new Piaggio design. The unit is a part of the 32nd Wing stationed at the Amendola airbase. In 2016 three UAV control stations for the P1HH HammerHead UAV are going to be delivered to the base. The new aircraft will probably be used for patrolling the airspace over the Mediterranean Sea, also within the scope of the missions, objective of which would be to detect the boats transporting the African immigrants, inflow of whom is one of the most serious regional problems.
Piaggio Aero P.1 HH Hammerhead, classified as a MALE (Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance) UAV, is capable of carrying out sorties that are several-hours long, at altitudes of up to 15 km. The Italian UAV features 15.6 m wingspan, it is 14.4 m long and has a take-off weight of more than 6 tonnes. It is going to be equipped with an expansive sensor system, including the Selex ES reconnaissance module that uses the Star Safire 380HD optronic system along with the SeaSpray 7300E radar. Additional equipment, or prospectively – armament, may be installed on the under-fuselage external pylons. The planned weight of the additional payload is as much as 227 kg.