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Robot Plane Starts To Take Flight

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The first robot plane designed specifically to carry weapons into combat has completed its initial taxi tests in anticipation of making a maiden flight in early 2002.

While other unpiloted aerial vehicles, or UAVs, have been modified to carry and fire weapons, most recently in Afghanistan, the Boeing X-45A is the first such drone being designed to do so from the start.

The Y-shaped, tailless plane is 27 feet long and sports a 34-foot wingspan. It weighs about eight-thousand pounds and can carry three-thousand pounds of weapons.

The U-S Air Force hopes the planes can eventually produced for about ten million dollars each, or about one-third the cost of conventional fighter jets.