As warfare enters the increasingly turbulent 21st century, militaries are turning to the ancient art of falconry to defeat the modern threat of drones.
Four eagles, named d’Artagnan, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis after characters in Alexadre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers, have been trained since before birth to rip their unmanned flying competition out of the sky.
“The results are encouraging. The eagles are making good progress,” Commander Christophe, who heads the air safety squadron at Mont-du-Marsan in southwestern France, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Police in The Netherlands first discovered the idea of using raptors to intercept drones, training bald eagles to do so in late 2015, AFP reported. The French army took up the cause last year, but chose the golden eagle instead — a natural-born killer with a wingspan of up to seven feet, excellent eyesight, and weighing about 11 pounds — roughly the same as most drones.
The four “musketeers” were hatched atop drones, The Washington Post reported, and served food atop wrecked drones from the age of three weeks. This technique taught the birds to seize remotely piloted aircraft for food.
The French have been concerned about drone attacks since early 2015, when drones flew over the presidential palace. Now, Mont-de-Marsan is one of five air bases in France to boast a falconry, and the military has already ordered a second brood of eagles.
Drones have been used for a wide variety of purposes, and some terrorists have even used them to deliver bombs in Iraq. This kind of natural defense could prove crucial in the coming years.
For proof of just how devastating a bird of prey can be to an unmanned aerial drone, watch this video from CNN.
Could this be the first military idea to take its cue directly from The Lord of the Rings?