Paris – The Direction Générale de l'Armement flew on July 6 the first sea trials of the Neuron technology demonstrator for a combat drone with the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, a spokesman for the defense procurement office said.

The demonstrator for an unmanned combat aerial vehicle flew out at sea for "about an hour" at some 1,000 feet, flying both with and without Rafale fighter jets, the spokesman said.

The flight test put the Neuron through its paces above the carrier but the UCAV did not land on the nuclear-powered vessel.

Flying at sea aimed to explore use of a combat drone in naval operations, and forms part of the latest campaign of flight tests, which began in May. A next round of tests at the DGA center at Bruz, western France, will evaluate electromagnetic stealth, with tests due to run through early 2017.

In the first test flight program, which ran from December 2012 to September 2015, the Neuron flew 123 times, initially in France, before flying in partner countries Italy and Sweden. The six nations backing the program are France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, with the DGA acting as program manager for the former.

Dassault Aviation is the prime contractor, with subcontractors Airbus Defence & Space of Spain, Alenia of Italy, Hellenic Aerospace Industry of Greece, Ruag of Switzerland and Saab of Sweden.

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