Piaggio Aerospace, Italian aircraft manufacturer, is progressing to achieve the certification of its HammerHead unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
The company is shifting its focus into the defence aviation market, company CEO Carlo Logli told IHS Jane's on 16 June.
Following certification of the first platform that is expected by the end of the year, the deliveries to the Italian Air Force will begin with two prototype aircraft, which are currently undergoing testing and evaluation in Sicily.
The HammerHead has a maximum speed of 402 kt (744.65 kilometres per hour) and can carry a payload of 500 kg, with a maximum ceiling of 42,000 feet, Logli added.
The company is seeking to pursue export markets for the UAV in Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. The HammerHead operates on two engines, cutting the risk of platform loss through engine failure.
The company is in the process of consolidating its manufacturing and commercial operations at a new 50,000 m 2 facility in the Ligurian town of Villanova d'Albenga. As a result, all the manufacturing activity will take place in one facility, with the ramp-up of production being completed by 2017.
Across defence and civil manufacturing lines, the company will be looking to increase output from nine to 17 aircraft per year, with independent production lines being established for civil and military aircraft.
Logli is targeting a manufacturing output split at 60% civil and 40% military, while maintaining its presence in general aviation with its business aircraft.
The company is also involved in the engine component manufacture market, producing blades and seals, as well as conducting engine maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO). It has won contract work on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.
The company’s business, which generates about EUR60 million (USD68 million) in revenues per year, is projected to grow to EUR70-80 million per year.
Piaggio Aerospace is also developing a multirole patrol aircraft variant of its P.180 Avanti II aircraft for the United Arab Emirates with delivery expected at the Dubai Air Show later this year.