Looking much like the U.S. X-47B currently on the USS Truman awaiting carrier trials, France’s Dassault Aviation launched the nEUROn Saturday.
The prototype stealth drone flew for 25 minutes and Phys.org reports the craft outlines technology for a pilotless fighter plane expected in European air forces around 2030.
“It inaugurates the next generation of combat aircraft, whether piloted or not, with the ambition of preserving European autonomy in this field,” the French defence ministry said in a statement.
“It’s a major accomplishment on both the technological and industrial levels,” it added. The aircraft, which has no vertical tail in order to make it as furtive as possible … a prototype, or model serving to test and develop technologies that could be used one day in a pilotless fighter plane which would equip European air forces.
The programme, launched by France in 2003 with support from Italy, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland and Greece, cost 406 million euros ($527 million), of which France contributed about half. Drones currently in service are used as surveillance planes or in surgical strike missions, but none rival the tasks performed by combat aircraft.
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