According to Defense News, Italy is edging closer to acquiring a new surveillance drone based on a business aircraft design. The UAV will offer 24-hour endurance and have a top speed of 330 knots.

Italy’s Ministry of Defence last month sent an acquisition request to Parliament’s defense commission for 20 Piaggio Aerospace P.2HH drones, costing a total of €766 million (U.S. $951 million).

The platform, dubbed the HammerHead, is an unmanned variant of the Piaggio Aerospace P180 business aircraft, which flies with two pusher propellers.

The request is the latest episode in the drawn-out development phase of the medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV, which has been punctuated by a test crash and the planned sale of Piaggio Aerospace’s civil activity to a Chinese-backed fund.

The request to Parliament describes the purchase of 10 piloting stations and 20 aircraft, which will be able to fly at 45,000 feet, carrying out intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance missions.

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The aircraft would be able to land at regular airports, fly in all weather conditions, and operate day and night in segregated and nonsegregated airspace.

With funding annually doled out until the completion of the program in 2032, the aircraft will be built at Piaggio Aerospace’s facility at Villanova di Albenga in Italy. The program has previously received funding thanks to Italy’s 808 law, which covers research funding for new defense technology.

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