The Italian government has cancelled its order for eight Piaggio P.1HH Hammerhead medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles, but may order more P-180 Avanti II’s to help save the Italian manufacturer.
Italy’s Ministry of Defence placed an order for eight P.1HH Hammerhead UAVs during the IDEX Trade Show, Abu Dhabi in February 2015. The deal, which was worth €250-million (EUR), would have seen the Italian Air Force become the launch customer for the platform. In 2016, Piaggio Aerospace’s sole P.1HH prototype crashed off the coast of Sicily whilst undergoing flight tests, in an incident which caused massive delays for the programme.
The P.1HH Hammerhead is a MALE UAV based on Piaggio Aerospace’s P-180 Avanti II VIP transport design. The aircraft was expected to enter service with the Italian Air Force and the United Arab Emirates Air Force. The first P.1HH aircraft was expected to be delivered to the latter in 2018, however, no deliveries of the type have yet to be made.
Italian Defence Minister, Elisabetta Trenta, stated that the P.1HH “has seen the disappearance of some fundamental conditions of flight characteristics” and that “direct investigations are underway to seek other synergies that will allow the programme to continue in the national interest.” She also commented on Piaggio Aerospace’s current industrial situation, stating that: “Italy’s Ministry of Defence continues to support the creation of adequate conditions for a more durable solution that can better balance the operational needs of the military instrument and the strategic value of the company.”
The Defence Minister also announced the “implementation of a programme of renewal of the P-180 fleet already available in the armed forces.” From this, to help Piaggio Aerospace, the Italian government announced plans to upgrade its P-180 Avanti II VIP transport fleet. The Italian Air Force currently operate seven of these aircraft.