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European stealth-combat test drone flies in France

PARIS (AP) - A pan-European stealth combat drone demonstrator has taken its first test flight in southern France.

French defense company Dassault-Aviation is lead contractor on the "Neuron" project launched in 2005 involving firms from France, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Greece and Switzerland to provide a test bed for developing future combat aircraft.

Its successful flight took place Saturday near Istres.

Program officials say the Neuron is not a prototype, but aims to help European countries explore stealth technology for possible use- years from now- in future drones or successors of fighters like the Eurofighter or France's Rafale. The program will also seek innovations like the release of air-to-surface weapons from an internal bay.

Many experts believe armed drones will play an increasing role in the future of air combat.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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