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15 Nov 13. A United Arab Emirates (UAE) investment fund has beefed up its stake in Italy-based Piaggio Aero, just as the aeronautics firm gets ready for the debut flight of its P.1HH Hammerhead drone, scheduled to take place within days at Sicily’s Trapani Air Base. Mubadala, the US $55bn fund set up by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in 2002, increased its stake in Piaggio Aero from 33 to 41 percent on Nov. 12, as part of an equity increase of €190m (US $255m), which also saw Tata Ltd., a UK offshoot of India’s Tata Group, increase its stake from 33 to 44.5 percent. Italian private investor Piero Ferrari has increased his stake from 1 to 2 percent, while hedge fund HDI has dropped from 33 to 12.5 percent. That means Mubadala and Tata are now the main financial backers of development of the Italian-built Hammerhead, which is an unmanned version of Piaggio Aero’s main seller, the P.180 twin-prop business aircraft. Following two years of development, the Hammerhead completed its first engine start and runway taxi in February. Testing has been shifted from Italian Air Force facilities in Sardinia, Galassi added. Like the P.180, the Hammerhead features two pusher propellers and canards on the nose. It offers a 15.5-meter wing span, maximum takeoff weight of 6,146 kilograms and will fly to 45,000 feet with 16 hours endurance, with the company claiming it can get to a target faster and stay on target longer than rivals. Italy’s Selex ES will supply an electro-optical turret, forward-looking infrared, its e-scan Seaspray 7300 radar and mission management system. The venture is the fruit of Piaggio’s focus on new, intelligence-, surveillance- and reconnaissance-related uses for the P.180 following the impact of the financial crisis on business flying. The firm is also working with Adasi, part of the Abu Dhabi strategic investment firm Tawazun, to produce a manned maritime patrol version of the P.180, with the UAE seen as launch customer. One Italian analyst who declined to be named suggested Tata might sell its stake in Piaggio Aero to the UAE, leaving the Arabian Gulf state as controlling shareholder. To meet its current UAV needs, the UAE has meanwhile purchased the export version of the General Atomics Predator A, the XP, which has been marketed to non-NATO countries. Despite the UAE money behind the Hammerhead, the first military to show interest in the UAV has been Italy’s. Taking many by surprise, Italian procurement chief Gen. Claudio Debertolis said at this summer’s Paris Air Show that Italy could buy 10 of the aircraft, adding that he was also tipping the UAV as a candidate for a common European medium-altitude, long-endurance program and would assist in promoting it to other countries. The Italian Air Force is now certifying the program and “supervising” it, Galassi said. (Source: Defense News)

20 Nov 13. Cassidian Optronics establishes a subsidiary in Brazil to enter the local market for optical and optronic devices. Optronbras Ltda in Belo Horizonte, headed by its managing director Hans-Peter Jungbauer, is intended to serve as a point of contact for Brazilian customers and to develop technological skills inside the country. Jungbauer explains: “Brazil is one of the major growth markets worldwide. A local presence is a prerequisite for participating in public projects, e.g. for border surveillance, mineral resources protection or for the modernisation of the armed forces. The Brazilian government is primarily interested in a long-term cooperation with foreign high-tech companies because current border and coastal protection programmes require technological skills to be established and further developed within Brazil itself.”
Optronbras will build up its own engineering and manufacturing structures, thus supporting local value creation. The company will further develop technological capabilities and create new jobs. Thanks to the service resources to be built up locally, the systems used in Brazil may be updated and brought ba

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