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After a prolonged process, which included a test crash, Italy is edging closer to acquiring a new surveillance drone based on a business aircraft design. The platform, dubbed the HammerHead, is an unmanned variant of the Piaggio Aerospace P180 business aircraft, which flies with two pusher propellers. The UAV will offer 24-hour endurance and have a top speed of 330 knots.
The deal will include 20 Piaggio Aerospace P.2HH drones, costing a total of €766 million (U.S. $951 million). The request to Parliament describes the purchase of 10 piloting stations and 20 aircraft, which will be able to fly at 45,000 feet, carrying out intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance missions.
The medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV would be able to land at regular airports, fly in all weather conditions, and operate day and night in segregated and nonsegregated airspace.
The program has previously received funding thanks to Italy’s 808 law, which covers research funding for new defense technology.
The parliamentary commission did not vote on the request since it arrived too close to Italy’s March 4 election, in the meantime, Italy’s Defence Ministry is set to push on with the program, according to defensenews.com.
However, Italy is yet to place an order, three years after Piaggio Aerospace first said it would be the launch customer. If Italy’s plan was to buy the HammerHead as a gap filler ahead of the introduction of the EuroMALE, that gap is now getting smaller.