Italians Unveil HammerHead Drone

HammerheadPARIS — Italian aviation firm Piaggio Aero unveiled Tuesday the HammerHead unmanned aircraft system along with Selex ES here at the Paris Air Show marking the first time an Italian company has developed a large scale UAS.

The international market continues to demand medium to large sized unmanned aircraft. It’s a market that U.S. and Israeli defense firms have dominated. 

The P1HH Hammerhead is a sign that growth is coming outside the two leaders. China and Russian defense companies are also looking to expand the number of larger scale drones they produce.

The Hammerhead can climb to 35,000 feet in 20 minutes and operate with a 45,000 foot ceiling. The UAS is designed as a surveillance aircraft with an endurance of 16 hours carrying 500 pounds of payload and a range of up to 4,400 nautical miles.

Piaggio Aero was the prime contractor and built the aircraft while Selex ES, a Finmeccanica company, integrated the sensors and the operating system.

The aircraft was first announced in February at the IDEX defense show in Abu Dhabi. The drone is yet to fly, but officials said it’s in the final stages of preflight clearance trials. Selex ES leaders said they expect the first flight to occur within a year.

With defense budgets shrinking across the world, Piaggio Aero and Selex ES expect the HammerHead to receive plenty of attention because they plan to price it well below similar U.S. and Israeli models, said Norman Bone, managing director for Selex ES’ Airborne and Space Systems Division.

Bone said it would be hard to compare the HammerHead to a U.S. drone, but said it is similar to the Hermes produced by Elbit Systems in Israel.

The companies don’t have near term plans to arm the aircraft, but Bone said it could be part of the future development.

About the Author

Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to He can be reached at
  • theyknowwho

    Pandora’s box has been opened and everyone is fair game. All those thought this a good idea that now other nations are rushing to get their owns for the very same reason the originators invented theirs? Nobody is safe.

  • Ricky

    Its pretty.

  • Rob C.

    Looks like their using existing airframe designs to make UAS, which would be the cheaper route to do. Question is what kind of quality and performance this will be delievering.

  • hibeam

    We have drones. Just not the will to use them. When we see Taliban stacked up like cordwood at a funeral we hold our fire.

    • blight_

      If you can tell a funeral of “Taliban” from a few pixels up high vs a funeral for a village elder, then fire a Hellfire on a gut feeling…hmm, maybe that’s why they hate us.

      That said, tailing the funeral goers and abducting them in snatch and grab in dispersed houses at night is probably more “profitable” than killing them outright.

      The best roach baits work when the roach takes it home to the family…and kills them all.

      • hibeam

        The funeral was for one of those wild eyed bearded lunatics. Pretty obvious who attended… Still breathing wild eyed bearded lunatics. We could have addressed that problem.

        • shawn1999

          What difference does it make? Both Taliban and Village Elders are ordered by the Quran to destroy Jews, Christians (by name) and all others who don’t believe in Islam, and they even go after themselves depending on which successor to Mohammed they believe is right. That means for a Muslim, everyone else is your enemy. That means they are all valid targets.

          • shawn1999

            And your wrong- that isn’t why they hate us. They hate us because we aren’t their flavor of Islam.

          • blight_

            Don’t forget ethnic motivations.

            Hazaras are evil, not just because they are Sufi, but because they aren’t Pashtun. Tajiks and Uzbeks also aren’t Pashtun, even if they are also Sunni. Then there’s the Balochis who aren’t Pashtun, and the Pakistani Urdu-speakers who aren’t Pashto-speaking Pashtuns.

          • tiger

            So because somebody does not share your View of God, it’s ok to blow them up? Who died & made you judge & executioner? Easy off the hyperbole.

    • tiger

      THE power to kill, does not give you the right to so. Taliban do not wear name tags. You have no clue. Chill out dim bulb.

  • David

    Reminds me a bit of the old Beech Starship – cool looking design!

  • Scott

    good timing, with eurohawk gone, NATO and EU, will need a cheaper alternative, does not perform as well as a global hawk, but certainly cheaper,,, good way to monitor the med for illegals from african who are bleeding europe from its southern boarders

    • hibeam

      Illegals make economies boom. Get with the PC view not reality.

      • tiger

        Dim bulb, Stop with the delusional posts…

        • hibeam

          My posts are lusional.

      • blight_

        Incorrect, human capital that costs little but can be worked to death makes economies boom (Foxconn, blood-diamond mine in Africa, Leopold’s Belgian Congo, sugar plantations of the Caribbean, cotton in the Deep South post-cotton gin, tobacco plantations in early colonial Virginia, Roman slave-factories and latifundia factory farms…)


          You could’ve just said China, but you know.

          • blight_

            Foxconn is Taiwanese using Chinese slaves.


  • hibeam

    We have the Dunderhead drone. Works fine. The Commander in Golf won’t use it.

  • Edger

    Looks like a Predator drone with a pusher engine.

  • Restore Palestine

    So, are we going to start have defense thread about a Predator, or X-47B, pitted against foreign machines in vicious dog fights?

  • hibeam

    I am surprised anyone would build a drone. According to our Pakistani allies they only kill small children and puppies. Goats have been wounded. No enemy combatants have been hurt.

  • USN-Fan

    This is based on their existing design for a commuter aircraft for short to medium ranged regional market routes. All they’ve done is automate the cockpit, omit all the windows, expanded the fuel capacity, and added the capability for a modular ELINT/Comms/surveilance payload. Seems a relatively safe route to go and a new potential market for the airframe. Smart idea.

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