ROME — Piaggio Aerospace has resumed test flights of its Hammerhead UAV following a crash last year, and says it will start deliveries to the UAE in 2018.

Test flights using a new prototype of the P.1HH Hammerhead resumed on July 5 at Birgi Military Airport in Trapani, Italy, the firm said.

"The completion of the system and the first deliveries are planned in the course of 2018," the firm added. A company source said those deliveries would be to the UAE.

Test flights organized with the support of the Italian Air Force from Trapani were halted when the firm's initial prototype crashed into the Mediterranean on May 31 last year, reportedly due to problems concerning the integration of the flight control system.

The Hammerhead, an unmanned version of Piaggio's P180 business aircraft, is touted by the firm as Europe's only medium altitude long endurance (MALE) program, and a possible gap filler before a pan-European MALE development.

Italy-based Piaggio Aero is controlled by Mubadala, an Abu Dhabi-based strategic investment firm.

In March 2016 the UAE signed a 316 million euro contract to purchase eight of the UAVs.

In 2015 Piaggio said the Italian Air Force would be the launch customer of the P.1HH, acquiring three UAV systems, including six platforms and three ground control stations. But since then no official deal has been announced.

Tom Kington is the Italy correspondent for Defense News.

More In Air Warfare