France trains eagles to down drones

The French Air Force is training eagles from a young age to snatch drones from out of the sky. — Reuters

Golden eagles filmed at the air force base in Mont-de-Marsan on Friday are getting military training for combat against battery-charged drones that just about anybody can buy in a local store, and fly into security-sensitive zones such as presidential palaces, wittingly or not.

To prepare them, the baby eagles were placed before birth on top of drones while still inside the eggshell and, after hatching, kept them there during their early feeding period.

The eagles are trained to see drones as prey and are rewarded with a piece of meat after each successful foray.

Drone flights over the French Elysee presidential palace in early 2015 and a sensitive military site in the western region of Brittany raised alarm bells last year, prompting adoption of legislation which restricts usage in urban areas and obliges users to notify their existence to the authorities.