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.