Piaggio, the Italian producer of Avanti business turboprop, is nudging its focus toward the defense business, company CEO Carlo Logli has stated.

Ever since United Arab Emirates investment firm Mubadala took the majority stake in the manufacturer in May 2014, the company has moved to “consolidate its civil turnover” and pay increased attention to the defense sector, Logli, told Aviation Week at the Paris Air Show.

He said the company before the takeover was in a “very poor” situation, with two outdated factories, which have been consolidated into one new 140 million euro (US$157 million) modern facility at Villanova d’Albenga near the Italian-French border.

“My approach was that we needed managers, not heroes,” Logli said, describing how he tried to stabilize the company and turn around its fortunes. This year it will build 10 Avantis, and Logli hopes to produce around 2-3 aircraft per month across both the civil and military markets in the coming years.

But Logli is first attending to completing certification on its exisiting products before moving onto more ambitious programs.

One of the keys to its future is the P.1HH Hammerhead medium altitude, long-endurance unmanned air vehicle, which has already been ordered by the Italian Air Force. The program has so far generated around 100 flight hours, using the prototype aircraft and the demonstrator converted from standard Avanti. During the summer the company will install a beyond-line-of-sight satellite communications system which will allow for a mission endurance flight test

So far the longest flight has been two hours. Main priority for Piaggio is to complete the certification, with a particular focus on the Hammerhead’s automatic take-off and landing system.

Production of the first serial aircraft is already underway on a separate assembly line at Villanova d’Albenga.

Logli says the company’s military programs have benefitted extensively from the Avanti’s civil certification. The twin-turboprop’s performance provides safer operation and a high cruise speed compared with its single-engined counterparts such as the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper. The Hammerhead also has a de-icing system, and could potentially operate in conditions that might ground other unmanned platforms.

Logli says he is not worried about the development of a joint European drone, largely because the system will not be available for at least 10 more years.

“This is available now. Customers can come and take advantage of the 700 million euros we have spent on the program,” said Logli, adding that several European nations had expressed an interest in the system, but would likely wait to see it enter service with Italy first. Italy ordered three complete systems, including six platforms and three ground control stations during the IDEX defense show in Abu Dhabi in February.

Piaggio is also preparing the prototype of its Multirole Patrol Aircraft (MPA) that is due to make its first flight in September and could potentially make its international debut at the Dubai Air Show two months later.

The MPA already has its first customer in the form of Abu Dhabi Autonomous System Investments (ADASI), a subsidiary of Tawazun, who look after procurements for the Emirati armed forces, suggesting they will be the launch customers.