Piaggio Aerospace has announced that a prototype of its P.1HH HammerHead unmanned air vehicle has carried out its maiden flight.

The medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) prototype – dubbed Prototype 001 – was flown in December from Trapani Birgi air base in Italy, and will now continue its development and certification flight test campaign.

The Avanti II twin-pusher turboprop-derived Hammerhead was officially unveiled during Paris air show in 2013, after which a surrogate technology demonstrator model carried out its maiden flight in November of that year.

The 001 model that flew in December is characteristic of the final aerodynamic design, Piaggio says, including its new extended-span main wing and the integration of control systems on board.

The “seamless” prototype test saw the HammerHead perform the shakedown flight over the Mediterranean Sea “at a significant range of speed and altitude”, with a primary objective to conduct a first check of the air vehicle and ground control station.

Hammerhead - Piaggio

Piaggio Aerospace

“Today we have compelling reasons to believe that P.1HH will become the first European state-of-the-art MALE UAS, uniquely suited to perform a wide range of surveillance and security missions at the highest technological level,” Carlo Logli, chief executive of Piaggio Aerospace, said in a 24 February statement.

The achievement was shared by fellow Italian company Selex ES, which provides the vehicle management control system, sensors, data link and ground control station for the UAV, as well as system integration of these parts.

The management system is based on Selex’s SkyISTAR offering, which has built-in sensor fusion, data management and exploitation elements, making the UAV suited for border control, wide area and targeted surveillance and humanitarian assistance missions.

The Italian air force and ministry of defence are supporting the HammerHead development programme.

Source: FlightGlobal.com