Piaggio Aerospace has conducted the maiden flight of the first P.1HH HammerHead unmanned aerial system (UAS) prototype at the Trapani Birgi Air Base in Italy.
Undertaken after the completion of the P.1HH demonstration programme, the flight test marks the beginning of a comprehensive development and certification flight test campaign.
Representative of the UAS’ final aerodynamic configuration including the new, extended span main wing and the control systems on board, the Prototype 001 successfully performed a shakedown flight over the Mediterranean Sea at a significant range of speed and altitude.
The test was primarily focused on conducting a first check of all the essential functions of the air vehicle and ground segment.
P.1HH HammerHead Project pilot Sergio Paloni said: "The aerial vehicle was seamlessly operated remotely with no experienced flaws.
"We were also able to gather significant data which will enable us to forge ahead with our ambitious development roadmap."
Piaggio Aerospace chief executive officer Carlo Logli said: "The success of the Prototype 001 maiden flight is a fantastic step for the P.1HH programme and for our company as a whole.
"Today we have very concrete reasons to believe that P.1HH will become the first European state-of-the-art Male UAS, uniquely suited to perform a wide range of surveillance and security missions at the highest technological level."
Equipped with Finmeccanica-Selex’s new vehicle control and management system, the prototype was remotely operated from the company’s ground control station through its datalink and communications systems to ensure safe operations during all flight activities.
Powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-66B turboprop engines, the HammerHead is a multipurpose UAS designed to address the requirement for a robust and advanced solution for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions worldwide.
The remotely-controlled UAS features automatic take-off and landing capabilities, enhanced airframe, increased aerodynamic configuration with a reinforced wing, and a removable external section wing to guarantee easy ground transportation.
Image: The first P.1HH HammerHead UAS prototype during its maiden flight at the Trapani Birgi Air Base, Italy. Photo: Courtesy of PIAGGIO AERO INDUSTRIES S.p.A.