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Air Force developing tiny drones

DAYTON, Ohio, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force is trying to perfect bird-sized flying drones, or micro air vehicles, by 2015, and eventually produce bug-sized ones, military officials say.

Called MAVs for short, the tiny drones would have many advantages over current pilot-less aircraft, which are much larger and fly at 30,000 feet, the Chicago Tribune reported Sunday.

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At Wright-Patterson Air Force base near Dayton, Ohio, Mark Lewis, the Air Force's chief scientist, told the newspaper, "These are one of the assets that in the future could be a game-changer."

Officials say the near-term goal is to develop a bird-size MAV by 2015, and by 2030 the Air Force wants to have a bug-size aircraft ready. They could be used to swoop low to spy on troop movements and perhaps carry explosives that could stealthily kill enemy soldiers.

But scientists face big challenges in finding ways to keep the MAVs powered long enough to be useful and in how to land them, the Tribune said.

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