Eagles seem to be the most effective way to intercept drones in cities.
The drones being targeted are small, weighing less than 2kg, and are readily available on the commercial market. Nevertheless, their use in sensitive zones – including during demonstrations and around airports – has led to accidents that prompted France and other countries to introduce restrictions on unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs.
The French army is using birds of prey to take down drones to protect its air bases as well as to secure public airspace in case a drone poses a threat.
Eagles were first used by the Dutch police force to intercept drones used by criminals and terrorists. Inspired by this success, the French military began training eagles for military programmes.
The pilot programme started last spring at Mont de Marsan air base in southwestern France with a team of four raptors – three females and one male. They are taught from a very young age until they become fully-trained at around 8 months, when they reach full maturity. The eagles used in France are bred using artificial insemination since eagles are a protected species and harvesting wild eggs is strictly forbidden.
Part of the training involves familiarising the eagles with the sight of drones. Even before they hatch, the eagles are surrounded by drones so they become part of their natural environment. Eventually they are taught to associate drones with being fed.
“A drone means food for these birds,” Gerald Machoukow, the military base’s falconer, told FRANCE 24’s Fanny Allard. “Now they automatically go after them.” France24
Video: Dutch police use eagles to hunt illegal drones (last year)
The sound they make is scary, it is audible from the ground.
Video: Perdix Drone Swarm – Fighters Release Hive-mind-controlled Weapon UAVs in Air
The Department of Defense has released video of a test of swarming drones conducted in the skies over the US Navy’s test range at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California. In the October test, conducted by the Department of Defense Strategic Capabilities Office in collaboration with the Naval Air Systems Command, three FA-18 Hornet aircraft dispersed 104 Perdix micro-drones from onboard flare dispensers. The drones then communicated with each other, swarmed, and performed a series of designated “missions”—including finally swarming in a circle around a designated point on the ground.
The sound of the drone swarm, audible from the ground at the designated rendezvous point (at about 2 minutes into the video), might be described as terrifying. But we’ll leave that judgment to the reader. Arstechnica
France is on a new terror alert after five drones were spotted flying during the night over landmarks and the U.S. Embassy in Paris. The drones appeared over Paris in five locations in the city between midnight and 6 AM.
The first drone sighting was near the US embassy in the French capital. The Eiffel Tower, the Place de la Concorde and the Invalides military museum [where Napoleon Bonaparte is buried] “were also flown over” in the early hours of Tuesday, the source said.
“It could be a coordinated action but we don’t know for now,” the source, who asked not to be identified, said. “We did everything to try and catch the operators but they were not found,” another source close to the investigation said.
France has experienced a series of mysterious drone appearances in the last few months. On January 20, a pilotless aircraft briefly went over the presidential palace in Paris, while around 20 drones were earlier seen flying above nuclear power plants.
However until Tuesday “there have never been so many drones appearing in one night,” the security source said.
French law bans small, civilian drones from areas such as nuclear facilities, which are protected by a no-fly zone that spans a 2.5-kilometre (1.6-mile) radius and a height of 1,000 metres.
Despite a heightened security alert over the risk of Islamist attacks in France, police so far have been unable to identify who is behind the drone activity.