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Piaggio Aerospace has been awarded a contract for the delivery of the P.1HH HammerHead unmanned aerial system (UAS) to the Italian Air Force.

Under the contract, the company will deliver three UAS systems comprising six air vehicles and three ground control stations, complete with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance configuration.

The contract was awarded at the recent International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) 2015 in Abu Dhabi. It makes the Italian Air Force the launch customer of the multipurpose UAS.

"The P.1HH HammerHead is a derivative of Piaggio Aerospace’s proven P.180 Avanti II business aircraft."

Piaggio Aerospace CEO Carlo Logli said: "It confirms the strong partnership we have with the Italian Air Force and showcases the P.1HH as one of the most advanced systems to enter the market.

"We are grateful for the continued support of our partner Finmeccanica-Selex ES, the Italian Ministry of Defence, our shareholders and the valuable teamwork with the Italian hi-tech industry."

The P.1HH HammerHead is a derivative of Piaggio Aerospace’s proven P.180 Avanti II business aircraft. It is a multipurpose UAS designed to address the requirement for a robust and advanced solution for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions worldwide.

Power for the remotely-controlled drone is supplied by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-66B turboprop engines. The drone features automatic take-off and landing capabilities, an enhanced airframe, increased aerodynamic configuration with a reinforced wing, and a removable external section wing to guarantee easy ground transportation.

The UAS recently completed its first test flight from the Trapani Birgi Air Base in Italy. It is currently undergoing a comprehensive development and certification flight test programme at the same location.

Deliveries to the Italian Air Force are scheduled to commence in early 2016.

Image: Italian Air Force has ordered three P.1HH HammerHead unmanned aerial systems. Photo: courtesy of Piaggio Aero Industries SpA.