This could change the face of drone warfare. France is training eagles to take out drones from the sky, a preemptive strategy being employed in anticipation of terrorists getting their hands on drones. A report in the Washington Post said that the French started to look for “creative solutions” in the wake of drones being sighted over the French presidential palace and a sensitive military installation in early 2015.
Reports of Iraqi security forces shooting indiscriminately in the sky in a bid to target a drone that had dropped a bomb on them reportedly got the French concerned too, even though the incident happened in another part of the world.
France’s security establishment found inspiration in Australia, where an experiment found that eagles demonstrated natural hostility to drones. The report on the Australian experiment was run by CNN.
An experiment carried out in Australia demonstrated the eagles, and other animals, were hostile to drones
How did the French groomed their eagle soldiers?
Eagles are known to be one of the most vicious birds of prey, their hunting abetted by their speed, strength of their talons and superior sighting. They have been used for centuries in carrying out leisurely hunting missions targetting other animals and birds.
Four eggs were placed on top of drones and were kept there after they had hatched, as reported by Reuters in November.
Named after popular characters in the novel The Three Musketeers, the eagles were found to intercept drones by February, most of the times the situation involving high-speed chases.
According to France’s Agence France-Presse, the eagles were made to chase the drones in the grass as part of their training. They were rewarded with meat which used to be strapped at the back of the drones, in attempt to reinforce the eagles’ hostile attitude towards drones.
— KF (@d0tslash) February 17, 2017
All the effort paid off this month, when the French military screened the fully-trained eagles in action.
The military is also designing mittens of leather and Kevlar, an anti-blast material, to protect their talons, the French news agency reported.
The AFP reported that the military was so impressed by their eagle recruits that they had ordered a second batch of brood of eagles to be trained.