French Air Force to use eagles against rogue drones

© Laurent Dubrule
The French military is preparing a new countermeasure to protect high-profile events from rogue terrorist drones. The answer to the emerging threat is the millennia-old tradition of falconry.

The French Air Force is training a number of eagles to hunt drones, L'Express newspaper reported.

“The eagles could be used in major events like the July 14, G20 meetings or big international conferences like the recent COP 21,” an air force spokesperson told the newspaper.

In certain situations, when debris could fall onto the crowd below, the drone cannot be shot down. The eagle can intercept the device without causing extra damage.”

The program was launched in spring this year, when trainers acquired eagle eggs. The actual training started in summer, when the birds of prey were large enough. The drone-hunters may be ready for deployment in summer next year.

“They have been taught that there is food on the drones, and now when they see one of these devices they intercept. We are training them not just to attack them, but to detect them,” the spokesperson said.

While falconry is far beyond its popularity peak in Europe, birds of prey are currently employed by some airports, where they chase off other birds which might be sucked into an aircraft engine and damage it. They are also used for similar, if less crucial, pest control at landfills and commercial buildings.

The French program follows in the footsteps of a similar effort by the Dutch police.