Italy swaps long-struggling HammerHead drone for manned planes

Piaggio Aerospace

Italy canceled its order for the Piaggio P.1HH HammerHead drone and ordered manned versions of the Avanti light turboprop.

The Piaggio P.1HH HammerHead was a twin-turboprop medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) drone based on the Avanti executive transport. The maiden flight of the prototype happened in 2013, and in 2016 eight aircraft were ordered by the UAE Air Force.

The decision was made to keep Piaggio Aerospace afloat following the drama with domestic and foreign drone orders.

The new deal includes six P.180 EVO aircraft, a flight simulator and an extension to the maintenance contract of jet engines used on military trainers. According to Italian media, the deal is worth €171 million and will add to the government’s existing €540 contracts with Piaggio.

A debate of whether or not Italy should purchase Piaggio drones was kicked into high gear in 2018, when the UAE canceled its order for eight HammerHeads. Previous to that, an issue of whether or not the Italian Air Force should place its own order for six drones was highly debated, but after the walkout of the UAE, the Italian order remained as the only option to save the program.

The cancelation of the Italian order means that the P.1HH program may be over and the drone is not going to see mass production unless the company finds investors to finance its continuation.

The Italian Air Force already operates 17 Piaggio P.180 Avanti aircraft, used as light and VIP transports.

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