The rise of commercially available drones has become sort of a headache for national security personnel. Which is why France is taking unusual measures to stay one step ahead of the problem and trained four golden eagles to seek and destroy drones in the air.
Golden eagles are one of the largest raptors in the world, with wingspans reaching up to 2.2 metres. The size of these eagles allows them to easily pluck commercial drones from the skies.
France’s four eagles – named after the main characters from the Three Musketeers – have been around since the middle of 2016. The four are part of a plan for law enforcement agencies to bring down drones without having to fire into the air. Ideally, these birds would be deployed in urban areas during mass gatherings as part of the security detail.
While there have not been any acts of terror perpetrated by drones yet, the French military is not taking any chances. Last year, Iraqi soldiers were sent scrambling after an Islamic State drone flew over their position and dropped a bomb on them.
Unidentified drones were also spotted flying over restricted military areas in France and the presidential palace. Nothing came of these incidents, but the country is not taking any chances after experiencing several acts of terror over the last few years.
Falconry, the historical art of training hunting birds, is not anything new for the air force. Smaller predators like falcons and hawks are often kept on airbases to scare other birds off the tarmac. Commercial airports also occasionally employ civilian falconers to do the same thing.
As part of the military, France’s eagles are also being fitted with protective armour that will shield them from blasts and protect their talons. The programme has also been instructed to add four more eagles, although these will take a while to be hatched and raised.
[Source: Washington Post]