On May 24, 2018, Piaggio Aerospace, a leading Italian aircraft manufacturer active in the business aviation and defense and security sectors, announced the successful accomplishment of the first flight test program, with its remotely piloted P.1HH HammerHead aircraft, aimed at experimenting the satellite control of a MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) system, designed for long endurance flights at medium altitudes.
The flight test program was performed in partnership with Telespazio, the joint venture between Leonardo (67%) and Thales (33%), which provided the satellite technology. The purpose of the program was to integrate the technologies that allow flying beyond the line of sight (BRLOS, Beyond Radio Line Of Sight) and to assess their performance.
The experimental campaign was carried out at Birgi Airport in Trapani by a team of experts by Piaggio Aerospace and Telespazio, who verified on the ground the efficiency of the satellite technology in several areas of application. Tests were performed by using the satellite Athena-Fidus, which is managed by the Fucino Space Centre of Telespazio. The satellite allowed both to communicate to the P.1HH the necessary information for the command and control of the aircraft, and also to transmit from the aircraft to the ground the on-board sensors’ data acquired during the flight, fully simulating surveillance missions in the BRLOS mode.
Fabio Guida, Chief Technology Officer of Piaggio Aerospace, remarked: «Our aircraft guaranteed the success of a key test at European level for the future development of the defense and security sector, that will increasingly rely upon remotely piloted systems of this class. The outstanding outcome is the evidence of Piaggio Aerospace’s commitment to the continuous development of the P.1HH HammerHead program, which will see the first deliveries this year. The platform represents the only European MALE product and is an uncontested excellence within the industry».
On November 9 2015, the roll out of the first MPA (Multirole Patrol Aircraft) took place in Genoa and represented a key milestone in the development of this innovative new airplane, which is now approaching ground and flight tests activities to achieve its complete flight envelope configuration.
Fully compatible with the unmanned HammerHead system, the MPA is developed by Piaggio Aerospace in partnership with ADASI – Abu Dhabi Autonomous System Investments – and represents a significant evolution of the P.180 Avanti platform, including:
50% increasing of the wing span;
35% increasing of the horizontal tail and 20% increasing of the forward wing surfaces;
Significant upgrade of the power plant with new scimitar propeller blades and noise reduction;
Increased fuel tanks capacity (50%);
New SAAB Albatros Mission System by with Radar 1700 G2, EO/IR and Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion Avionic Suite.
Simultaneously with the Italian roll-out, the MPA Ground Demonstrator is show-cased at the Dubai Air Show within the stand of Mubadala, shareholder of Piaggio Aerospace. It is constituted by the forward section of the aircraft, fully equipped with the new avionic and mission systems. The main goal of this Ground Demonstrator is to offer a realistic representation of the system capabilities and perform ground testing of equipment, anthropometric evaluation, cockpit lighting/glare, and human machine interface evaluation.
Carlo Logli, CEO of Piaggio Aerospace, commented in Dubai the MPA roll-out by saying: «We are very pleased about this step ahead in the MPA programme, as we consider this new aircraft as a key strategic asset of our product portfolio. In the very near future, we will be able to offer an integrated range of manned and unmanned solutions, tailored on the needs of each Customer, boosting unique capabilities, and able to match the growing and sophisticated demand of security of many Nations».
Jonas Hjel, SAAB’s Head of Business Area Support and Services, said: «We have worked closely together with Piaggio Aerospace to integrate SAAB’s advanced multi-mission surveillance systems for maritime and overland missions, with equipment that includes a mission management system, radar and electro-optics. Today we are proud to present this system, which is the most advanced technology for airborne surveillance, in the MPA product».
Claude Alber, Rockwell Collins Vice President and Managing Director, Europe, Middle East and Africa added: «Piaggio Aerospace’s new MPA represents a significant technological step forward for completing special missions, and Pro Line Fusion delivers information to the flight deck faster and more efficiently on customised, empowering pilot interfaces. This aircraft is another proud milestone in our long-standing relationship with Piaggio».
65.16 feet/21.4 m
43.89 feet/14.4 m
12.08 feet/4 m
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW)
16,500 lbs/7,484.3 kg
Maximum Landing Weight (MLW)
14,500 lbs/6,577 kg
Zero Fuel Weight (ZFW)
11,050 lbs/5,012 kg
Mission Payload (mission equipment and 2 operators)
1,350 lbs/612 kg
Maximum Fuel @ Maximum Payload
5,100 lbs/2,313 kg
Maximum Allowable Fuel
5,300 lbs/2,404 kg
Maximum Cruise Speed
350 KTAS/403 mph/648 km/h
Maximum Operation Altitude
41,000 feet/12,497 m
Maximum Endurance (at 5,000 feet/1,524 m) 45 min Visual Flight Rules (VFR) reserve