Eagles Are Now Being Trained to Take down Enemy Drones

(ANTIMEDIA) France — Ideas on how to combat drones are getting more interesting by the day. On Monday, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that since 2016, the French Air Force has been training eagles to rip drones straight out of the sky. From that report:

“Faced with the risk of drones being used to snoop or carry out attacks on French soil, the air force is showing its claws.

“At Mont-de-Marsan in southwestern France a quartet of fearsome golden eagles is being trained to take out unmanned aircraft in mid-flight.”

The strategy of using raptors to fight drones  — which VICE News on Wednesday called “the most badass plan ever” — was first introduced by police in the Netherlands in 2015. The French military liked the idea, and by 2016 had launched a two-year pilot program of its own.

For its test subject, the French selected the golden eagle, a predator that can spot a target from over a mile away and has a wingspan of up to seven feet. Four golden eagle babies were hatched in captivity and then, from the age of three weeks, were served food atop the wreckage of drones.

This linked the idea of destroyed drones to food in the mind of the birds, and the raptors very quickly started tearing them from the sky. And after each successful kill, trainers would reward the eagles with hunks of meat.

“The results are encouraging,” a commander in the French military told the press. “The eagles are making good progress.”

The birds are all named for the protagonists in Alexander Dumas’ “The Three Musketeers” — Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D’Artagnan. And recently, D’Artagnan proved just how successful the program really is.

At a demonstration in Mont-de-Marsan, a drone was sent into the air, and the predator — which was released from a control tower 200 yards away — intercepted the machine and had it pinned to the ground in 20 seconds.

A natural concern is that metal rotor blades on drones could do serious damage to a flesh and blood creature attacking it. But as AFP notes, it’s a concern the French have already considered:

“To prevent the birds from harming themselves on the job, the military is designing mittens of leather and Kevlar, an anti-blast material, to protect their talons.”

Still, falconer Gerald Machoukow, who works with the drone-killing raptors, warns that this strategy shouldn’t be viewed as a catch-all solution to the ever-increasingly complex issue of unmanned aerial vehicles.

“I love these birds,” he said. “I don’t want to send them to their death.”

By all accounts, however, the program has thus far been a success. It’s been so successful, in fact, that the air force has already ordered a second brood of eaglets — despite the fact that the first progress report for the two-year pilot program isn’t due until June.

Creative Commons / Anti-Media / Report a typo

Since you’re here…

…We have a small favor to ask. Fewer and fewer people are seeing Anti-Media articles as social media sites crack down on us, and advertising revenues across the board are quickly declining. However, unlike many news organizations, we haven’t put up a paywall because we value open and accessible journalism over profit — but at this point, we’re barely even breaking even. Hopefully, you can see why we need to ask for your help. Anti-Media’s independent journalism and analysis takes substantial time, resources, and effort to produce, but we do it because we believe in our message and hope you do, too.

If everyone who reads our reporting and finds value in it helps fund it, our future can be much more secure. For as little as $1 and a minute of your time, you can support Anti-Media. Thank you. Click here to support us

    8