P.1HH HammerHead – Piaggio Aerospace’s Unique Redefinition of UAS

By Anantha Narayanan K 12-Mar-2018


By redefining the concept of Unmanned Aerial Systems with its uniquely designed and developed UAS P.1HH Hammerhead, Italy’s Piaggio Aerospace has earned its own identity in the field of defence and security. With its peerless operational versatility, this one-of-a-kind hammer-headed UAS is Piaggio Aerospace’s assurance to play a character role in the UAS segment. Being a promising future of land, sea and air security with its sophisticated navigation and mission management systems, the P.1HH HammerHead, one of Piaggio’s main attraction at the Unmanned Systems Exhibition & Conference (UMEX) 2018, gives a new meaning to the very notion of aerial patrol.

Piaggio Aerospace is one of the few companies in the world in possession of both the technology and the experience to design, develop and build unmanned Medium Altitude Long Endurance class systems (MALE). P.1HH Hammerhead, which is the prime product in the segment, is an unmanned derivative of Piaggio Aerospace's P180 Avanti II twin-turboprop aircraft, which is one of the fastest business aviation aircrafts in the world. Based on the P.180 Avanti II’ architecture and technologies, P.1HH HammerHead is designed to be an all-weather aircraft with twin turboprop propulsion to provide maximum safety, operational reliability and the lowest mishap rate in its category, inheriting the P.180 Avanti II’ proven service record of more than 20 years and 800,000 flight hours. The Hammerhead has a flight endurance time of up to 16 hours, can soar up to 45,000 feet and has the unique ability of loitering as slowly as 135 knots true airspeed (KTAS) or sprint as fast as 395 KTAS with its ISR payload. It has a flexibility that allows it to extend its capabilities with an array of features that makes the P.1HH Hammerhead a unique UAS in the market.

The Hammerhead is a UAV system Piaggio Aerospace claims to be Europe's only medium altitude long endurance (MALE) program, with top-of-the-line combination of performance and operational characteristics. Piaggio Aerospace has designed the P.1HH HammerHead to suit for a wide range of ISR, Defence and Security missions, and it defines a peerless mission role flexibility and sets a new frontier of Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for Defence. The Hammerhead can host several payload combinations and perform multiple missions like aerial, land, coastal, maritime and offshore security, COMINT/ELINT, electronic warfare as well as other roles.

With its hammer-headed front and the rear positioned wings, the UAS stands distinct from others in the market in terms of design. The P.1HH HammerHead UAV platform has an aerodynamic configuration largely similar to P.180 Avanti II. The unique patented 3 lifting surfaces configuration and high aspect ratio laminar wings of the Avanti II have been adapted for the P.1HH design by moderately increasing the wing span to sustain larger vehicle masses and allocating a quick detachable joint to the outer wings for rapid aerial deployment of the UAS in remote areas. Being a derivative of a Mach 0.70 aircraft, P.1HH HammerHead is the one of the fastest MALE UASs in the market.  Its design complies with STANAG USAR 4671 standards that authorises it to fly in both restricted and unrestricted flight areas.

The P.1HH HammerHead is powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PT6A-66B turbine engines integrated with 5-blade propellers. With its smart fuel system that controls and minimize the movement of the aircraft’s centre of gravity, Hammerhead has maximum operational flexibility in a wide range of mission payloads. The triple redundant electrical generation and distribution system caters to all the energy needs of the UAS with adequate operational reserve through the envelope, and completely satisfies large power demands from a variety of power consuming payloads.

Apart from having the same design of the P.180 Avanti II aircraft, the Hammerhead also inherits several of its general systems  and sports a hydraulic dual pressure system for landing gear extensions/retraction and brake activation. These subsystems are all commanded via fail-safe Remote Interface Units by a technologically advanced Vehicle Control & Management System (VCMS). The VCMS, combined with the advanced Mission Management System (MMS), manages the UAV and its mission specific equipment. The VCMS is commanded from the Ground Control Station (GCS) via an airborne datalink system. It conducts the vehicle commanding aerodynamic control surfaces and manages on-board equipment with a triple redundant Flight Control Computer (FCC) system and multiple remote multi-lane Servo Interface Units (SIU), that helps Hammerhead in achieving the required level of safety and mission reliability.

HammerHead’s VCMS also features an Automatic Take-Off and Landing (ATOL) system served with dual redundant external sensors to assure reliability and safety. All VCMS LRU’s are installed in such a way to provide zonal separation and temperature analysis for achieving a state of the art operative temperature range, highest VCMS reliability and above all, the drone’s safety, with one of  the best maintainability in the segment.

An advanced Ground Control Station (GCS), developed and supplied by Leonardo Spa, is the P.1HH HammerHead UAS’s Command & Control centre. The GCS is located in an autonomous shelter that hosts crew, equipment and consoles necessary to manage up to three UAVs (two operational, one in transfer mode) and their related payloads. The GCS is provided with multiple Ground Data Terminals (GDT) that when coupled with the associated Air Data Terminals (ADT) on the vehicles provide Line of Sight (LOS) and Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) Link for Vehicle and Payload Control. The P.1HH HammerHead UAS Mission Management System redefines the concept of patrolling and ISR missions, to encompass threats that range from terrorist attacks to illegal immigration, as well as protection of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), infrastructures and critical sites. The onboard airborne Mission Management System (MMS) manages sensors, video and data, communications, and ISR functions and it is capable of recording video and mission data.

With its state-of-the-art UAS P.1HH Hammerhead, Piaggio Aerospace offers the Middle East and Asian markets yet another potential unmanned aerial system that can bolster defence security.