Piaggio Aero has flown a technology demonstrator of its P.1HH HammerHead unmanned air vehicle for the first time – releasing video of the 14 November maiden sortie at the show yesterday.
The airframer – which is partnering with fellow Italian firm Selex ES on developing the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft – says the 12min flight, from an airbase in Sicily, is “a fundamental milestone that paves the way to the next phase of the programme”.
That is likely to consist of a second flight of the demonstrator in December and a flight of the full production prototype early in the second quarter of 2014.
Last week’s flight, controlled from the ground by a pilot and flight engineer, was performed in mid-flap configuration with landing gear extended. After taking off at a rotation speed of 110kt, the aircraft flew over the Mediterranean in military airspace, reaching an altitude of 2,000ft and a speed of 170kt.
The HammerHead is a variant of the P180 Avanti II twin-pusher business aircraft, and was unveiled as a mock-up by the Genoa-based company at June’s Paris air show.
Piaggio is pitching it as a readily available and cost-effective alternative for European medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV requirements. “The success of the first flight test of the P.1HH demo brings us closer to providing the first European developed state of the art MALE [unmanned air system],” says Alberto Galassi, Piaggio Aero chief executive.
Italy and the UAE are seen as potential customers. Piaggio is exhibiting at Dubai on the stand of Mubadala, which along with Indian conglomerate Tata owns around 80% of the airframer.
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