The French Air Force’s new members are swooping in to help with potential terrorist drone strikes.
L’armee de l’Air has been training eagles to spot drones and attack them mid-air at a base near Mont-de-Marsan.
Four golden eagles were hatched on top of drones and kept there during their early feeding period. To associate drones with food, they were also served meat using the drones like plates.
The birds began their training last summer. Trainers hovered the drones in the air and they swooped in, bringing them to the ground and covering them with their wings before being rewarded with bits of meat.
The eagles, D'Artagnan, Aramis, Athos and Porthos, were named after musketeers. They could be deployed in situations where shooting down a drone could be dangerous, like parades or other large public events.
Officials are also designing Kevlar mitts to protect the eagles’ talons.
Eagles can spot prey from miles away and can reach up to 150mph when diving to attack. Their talons can also exert pressure of about 500 pounds per square inch and can carry off an animal as heavy as a lamb.
The programme is modelled after a similar one started in 2015 in the Netherlands, whose flying squad will go into effect next year.
The four feathered French musketeers will also be put on active duty next summer.