Needless to say, the most fashionable drone is Italian: the new Piaggio P.1HH unmanned aerial system

Feb 19 2013 - 7 Comments

The International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi, UAE, has been the stage to announce a brand new Italian unmanned aerial system (UAS).

Indeed, Piaggio Aero has rolled out the new P.1HH HammerHead, a multi-purpose MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) drone powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-66B turboprop engines designed to perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions worldwide.

Although no specific details have been release on the topic, it’s quite unlikely the aircraft will be able to carry any weapon.

P180 3D Rendering - Side View

Image credit: Piaggio Aero

The P.1HH UAS has already conducted a first engine start and runway taxi testing on an Italian airbase on Feb. 14 and will make its first flight during the year.

Unlike most drones, that are quite ugly because of shapes needed to enhance their endurance (long wings, small undercarriage etc.) and the array of sensors and other equipments that make their shape quite “bumpy”, the “HammerHead” has the distinctive features of the Piaggio P-180 Avanti, the twin-engine turboprop plane on which the new UAS is based.

Both aircraft feature an aerodynamic fuselage, small forward wings (similar to canards), engine in pusher configuration and a high horizontal stabilizer on the tail.

The P.1HH is capable of flying up to 45,000 feet with an endurance exceeding 16 hours. The UAS includes a ground control station that can be interconnected with the drone in Line of Sight or via satellite (Beyond Line of Sight).

So, don’t you think the P.1HH is quite beautiful, especially if compared to a Predator or Reaper?

Ok, payload is more important than look, but that’s another story….

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  • Teverone82

    Rather than beautiful shape or not I would underline that Piaggio seems to have lost imagination since the design of P.180

  • Thomas Eriksson

    This might be the wrong forum to ask this question but I have a question regarding the placement of the rotors. In ordinary planes (e.g. a Cessna) the rotor is placed in front of the fuselage, while the rotor is placed in the rear (e.g. the Predator) or far back (P.1HH UAS). Does anyone know why this is the case?

    • David Schwartz

      Partly this allows an uninterrupted forward field of view since there is no engine or propellor to have in front of sensors. Furthermore, this allows the nose to be open to mount sensors, communication systems, and other equipment that would benefit for having an unfettered forward view.

  • Shimon

    I would hardly call it fashionable, but it depends if you’re comparing strictly to turboprop reconnaissance, or if you’re including armed drones, jet propulsion or even stealth. Those requirements have a profound effect on the design, with the ugliest of those being in the turboprop reconnaissance category – to my taste. So while the Piaggio HammerHead might be a swan in the kingdom of ducks, there is nothing to compare with designs in the jet and stealth categories.

  • hmm

    I think that 16 hours of flight endurance for such a big airframe and without carrying any weapons is quite low especially when compared to a MQ-9.

    • joe tusgadaro

      The difference would be in speed. If speed is more important then endurance you’d take this Hammerhead if endurance is required send a Reaper.

  • Jaimemn

    It seems quite sure to me that such fatty airframe will have room enough to carry sofisticated electronis, weapons internally and even more fuel to expand endurance. Piagio came with a versatile design (although adapted from a civilian one) that will be a good base for a complete family of fast drones.