Piaggio unveils unmanned Avanti at IDEX


Piaggio Aero Industries, together with Selex ES, on Monday unveiled the Piaggio Aero P.1HH ‘HammerHead’ Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) at IDEX 2013.

The P.1HH HammerHead programme aims to develop a multipurpose Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions (ISR) UAS. The Piaggio Aero P.1HH Unmanned Aerial System includes an unmanned aircraft platform (based on the company’s Avanti turboprop), specific mission equipment and systems and a remote Ground Control Station (GCS).

After two years of development, the P.1HH HammerHead UAV has been rolled out and it successfully completed its first engine start and runway taxi on February 14 at an Italian Air Force base, Piaggio said. The Piaggio Aero P.1HH’s first flight is scheduled for later this year.

The Piaggio Aero P.1HH aircraft features automatic take-off and landing capabilities and is able to fly at up to 45 000 feet, with an endurance of 16 flight hours. The Piaggio Aero P.1HH Hammer Head UAV will also be compliant with the STANAG USAR 4671 standards that enable it to fly both in restricted and unrestricted flight areas.

Like the Piaggio Aero MPA – Multirole Patrol Aircraft – presented in July 2012, the HammerHead unmanned aircraft is a derivative of the Piaggio Aero P.180 Avanti II platform, newly designed for multi mission purposes such as aerial, land, coastal, maritime and offshore security, COMINT/ELINT missions, and electronic warfare.

The HammerHead unmanned aircraft’s main features are an enhanced airframe, increased aerodynamic configuration with a reinforced wing providing an increased surface and higher aspect ratio. The aerodynamic configuration is based on the development of new wings providing a 15.5 m wingspan with the subsequent modification of the previous P.180 aerodynamic design but maintaining Piaggio Aero’s patented three lifting surfaces configuration.

The HammerHead features a removable external section wing in order to guarantee easy ground transportation and provide operational flexibility in any environment. This modified aerodynamic configuration underwent extensive low speed/high speed wind tunnel testing to validate both its design and performance, Piaggio said in a statement.

The HammerHead aircraft will be remotely controlled from an autonomous mission control ground station (GCS) by both a Line Of Sight (LOS) and Beyond Line Of Sight (BLOS) satellite communication systems. The Piaggio Aero UAS features a Vehicle Control & Management System (VCMS) combined with an Air Data Terminal (ADT) and a customised Mission Management System (MMS) for the control of all mission specific equipment.

The HammerHead is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-66B turboprop engines, rated at 950 shp, and features newly designed, low noise Hartzell 5 curved bladed propellers. The propulsion system will be remote-controlled by an engine interface unit which is part of the P.1HH Vehicle Control and Management System.

The HammerHead project supports Piaggio Aero’s vision of becoming a prominent player in the surveillance and security sector, according to Alberto Galassi, Chief Executive Officer of Piaggio Aero Industries. “In today’s military, unmanned systems are highly regarded for their versatility for different roles and applications. Being ideally designed to perform at the highest, sensitive mission level in patrol , detection and reconnaissance environments, the P.1HH UAS will provide sophisticated stand-off capabilities for any surveillance and security need.
“With the development of a new generation of Multirole Patrol Aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Systems, Piaggio Aero is creating its future, with the fundamental support of our world class shareholders, Mubadala Aerospace and Tata Ltd”.

Piaggio Aero has selected Selex ES, a Finmeccanica company, for the development of the Mission Management System, the Vehicle Management and control System, Air Data Terminal and the Ground Control Segment for the Piaggio Aero P.1HH UAS. Selex ES has been selected as the Piaggio Aero UAS systems partner.
“We are proud to have been selected by Piaggio Aero as partner in this unique and very ambitious programme that brings together the expertise of two leading Italian companies in the aerospace and defence domain,” said Fabrizio Giulianini, CEO of Selex ES. “This achievement rewards the effort and investment that Selex ES has dedicated to the development of key enabling technologies and know-how in autonomous unmanned systems. These are integrated into our SkyISTAR system solution that, after less than two years from its launch, is now securing its first customer. This programme is a step forward in bringing to market a truly European MALE ISR UAS”.

The HammerHead is envisioned for missions like exclusive economic zone surveillance, illegal immigration monitoring, infrastructure protection, border patrol and environmental and disaster control missions.