Piaggio Unveils HammerHead UAS
Piaggio Aero has unveiled its P.1HH HammerHead unmanned aerial system (UAS) at the Paris Air Show. First announced in February at the IDEX show in Abu Dhabi, the HammerHead program is based on the company’s P180 Avanti II twin-turboprop business turboprop, but it has reinforced wings with greater area offering extended range and endurance.
HammerHead made its first taxi trial on February 14 and is now in the final stages of preflight clearance trials. Last week, on June 12, the vehicle control management system (VMCS) was tested in the aircraft to demonstrate fully autonomous engine control capability, normal and auto-brake features and complete control of all ground-handling functions. Previously the VMCS had been exhaustively tested in an iron bird test rig, which continues to support the clearance campaign.
Piaggio (Outdoor area Q36) is pitching the P.1HH as a versatile UAS that offers a variety of performance capabilities. As it is based on an aircraft certified for Mach 0.7 operation, Piaggio claims the P.1HH is the fastest medium-altitude long-endurance (Male) UAS available. Combined with its fast-climbing capability, the P.1HH’s 395 ktas maximum speed allows it to deploy to its operational area much quicker than other Male UAS. However, once on-station the P.1HH can loiter at 135 ktas. Maximum operating altitude is 45,000 feet.
In terms of endurance the P.1HH can stay aloft for 16 hours with a 500-pound payload or fly over a range of 4,400 nm. In a typical mission profile it could fly with a 500-pound payload to a station near 1,000 nm away, where it would loiter for 10.5 hours.
Piaggio has created the P.1HH by replacing the cabin with a new center section holding fuel and systems, including satellite communications for a beyond-line-of-sight datalink. Outrigger pylons can mount external stores if required. Sections of the wing can be removed for transportation. Power is provided by two Pratt & Whitney PT6A-66B turboprops each rated at 850 shp and driving a low-noise, five-bladed Hartzell propeller.
The HammerHead airplane forms part of a wider system that includes ground control that has been created in partnership with Selex ES. The defense electronics specialist provides the SkyIStar mission management system and also one of the prime sensors in the form of the Seaspray 7300E AESA radar. This is complemented by a Flir Systems Star Safire 380HD electro-optical/infrared sensor.
The HammerHead is intended to be one of a growing family of special-mission aircraft based on the Avanti II airframe. A maritime patrol version is taking shape, produced by Adasi of the UAE. Saab is providing the mission system for this program.