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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Japan To Develop Tiny Superlight Spy Plane

Agence France-Presse

Tokyo: Japan's Defense Agency is to develop a miniature superlight reconnaissance aircraft, based on ideas from a paper plane, a local newspaper said Monday.

The tiny unmanned aeroplane, designed to monitor enemy movements in Japanese territories, measures just 60 centimeters (24 inches) in wingspan and weighs only 400 grams (14 ounces), the Nihon Keizai Shimbun business daily said.

The agency will share development, including computer programming, with private-sector firms at the estimated cost of one billion yen (8.68 million dollars), the newspaper said citing sources with the agency.

The agency hopes to put the plane into action within five years, Nihon Keizai said.

"We will try to develop the world's smallest patrol plane," an agency official said quoted by the newspaper.

Modeled on paper planes, the body will be made from polystyrene foam, it said.

A built-in camera will take pictures and transmit them to ground bases, but it will have no offensive capabilities, the newspaper said.

How far it can travel in one operation has not been determined, but the plane will be equipped with a Global Positioning System receiver, which will aid navigation, it said.

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