Since July 5, the international military industries Piaggio Aerospace and Leonardo-Finmeccanica, with the collaboration of the Italian military aeronautics, have resumed at the airport "Cesare Toschi" ] of Trapani-Birgi experimental flights of the prototype of war drone P.1HH Hammerhead . The announcement was made by Piaggio's managers but did not specify how and until the tests will continue in the coming months. However, a Notification (NOTAM B2914) has recently been issued to airplane pilots in transit from the Trapani airport, announcing the possibility of delays in landing and landing operations at Birgi "for unmanned UAV military activities" during the period between June 11, and September 30, 2017, that is to say in the months when air passenger traffic is greater in the important Sicilian port. Just in Trapani Birgi, " in order to maintain the highest levels of safety," the Italian Aeronautics will carry out "extraordinary maintenance on the runway" in autumn, with the consequent suspension of all air connections from Monday 6 November to Monday 11 December 2017.
Hammerhead are resumed after a 13-month break following the serious accident ] in the late morning of May 31, 2016, when a prototype of the plane crashed into the sea 5 miles north of the island of Levanzo (Egadi), about twenty minutes later be taken off by Birgi. Among the most credited accident incidents, the failure to operate remote flight control systems. On March 19, 2015, a high experimental aircraft P.1HH had come out of the track during taxiing tests, causing temporary closure for the safety of the Trapani airport and hijacking flights on the Palermo airport – Punta Raisi. Experimental drone trials have caused other serious disruptions to air traffic, as noted by the staff of Birgi companies.
Piaggio Aerospace managers say the new test campaign at the Sicilian airport has been launched in view of the delivery of the drones of war to the UAE armed forces in 2018. The contract worth 316 Million Euros between the aerospace industry and ADASI (Abu Dhabi Autonomous Systems Investments) was signed in March 2016 and includes the transfer of eight pilot aircraft remote, equipped with EO / IR (Electro-Optical Infra Red) cameras, advanced radar and communication systems. The contract also includes integrated logistic support and training for flight operations by the manufacturer's engineers. Last year a prototype of the drone reached the Emirates on a Ilyushin 76 transport aircraft, taken off by Trapani Birgi just before the accident off the island of Levanzo.
In 2015, Piaggio also announced the sale of three systems P.1HH Hammerhead (six drones plus three land stations) to the Italian military aeronautics, but to date the contract would not has been formalized. A year ago, at the Farnborough Air Show in London, industry managers admitted that the delivery of aircraft to the Italian armed forces could be delayed due to the incident that happened to the Egadi.
Aircrafts are being tested in Trapani Birgi since November 2013 by a civilian-military team composed of Piaggio Aerospace, Leonardo-Finmeccanica and Air Force technicians. In addition to western Sicily, the new drones also use Decimomannu's Sardinian airport and the polygons of Capo San Lorenzo and Perdasdefogu for 250-lb laser and infrared laser jamming .
Hammerhead is the first remote pilot of the MALE type Medium Altitude Long Endurance designed and built entirely in Italy. The drone can reach 13,700 meters and fly continuously for 16 hours, at a maximum speed of 730 km / h. Every single system Hammerhead consists of two remote pilot aircraft (UAV, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle ), a Ground Control Station and integrated navigation and mission systems. "The drone was designed for patrols, surveillance, reconnaissance, acquisition and analysis of data and responding to the most diverse threats: from terrorist attacks to clandestine immigration, protection of exclusive economic zones, sites and infrastructures criticism, etc., "explains Piaggio's managers. "P.1HH mounted equipment makes it suitable for border and space surveillance, but also for identifying specific targets, and for environmental monitoring of disaster-stricken areas." The drone can, however, be converted into a ruthless killer system because the radar and infrared viewers produced by Selex ES (Leonardo-Finmeccanica) allow him to identify the target, even on the move to provide coordinates for aerial or land attack with precision guided missiles and bombs (the aircraft itself can carry up to 500 kg of weaponry).
The former Italian Piaggio Aerospace industry was wholly acquired by the Abu Dhabi Government Investment Company, Mubadala Development Company, which is now one of America's strategic partners Lockheed Martin (known in Italy as being the manufacturer of the latest generation F-35 fighter bomber and the MUOS satellite telecommunications system). Founded in 2002 to diversify the economic, financial and industrial activities of the Emirate, the Mubadala Development Company is chaired by Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the hereditary prince of Abu Dhabi and supreme commander of the armed forces.