With a spate of drone attacks inside Russia, including the recent one on the Kremlin that rattled the Russian power center, a lawmaker recently floated the idea of using eagles to thwart hostile drone attacks.
As Russian officials continue to cope with the unexpected drone attack on Kremlin, the deputy chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee, Alexei Zhuravlev, made an extraordinary request to form a “squadron of eagle interceptors” to aid in defending Moscow from future drone strikes.
“We need to think about protecting our important infrastructure to the point of forming a squadron of drone interceptor eagles in the Kremlin and other places,” Alexei Zhuravlev told Russian news agency RIA Novosti on May 4.
In reaction to the purported Kremlin drone attack, Zhuravlev also called for a Russian attack on the headquarters of the Ukrainian intelligence agencies and the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Russia had previously accused Ukraine of plotting to assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The suggestion for establishing eagle interceptors comes amid an alarming rate of drone attacks on Russian targets. After the Kremlin attack, Russia’s oil depots were also reportedly struck by drones, which has also been attributed to Kyiv.
Following Zhuravlev’s statement, a military expert and pro-war commentator Vladislav Shurygin published a video on his Telegram channel showing an eagle successfully intercepting a drone in mid-flight. The video has since gone viral on social media and triggered a discussion about using eagles as interceptors.
Ornithologist Lydia Katashuk told Sputnik radio that eagles can be used to protect some objects from drones, but only in the daytime.
Russian eagle-interceptor in the fight against drones
Military expert Vladislav Shurigin published a video in which a trained eagle can be seen intercepting drones. He was commenting on the proposal of the first deputy chairman of the State Duma defense committee Alexei… pic.twitter.com/wFywWjzHRJ
— Spriter (@Spriter99880) May 4, 2023
“Yes, it is theoretically possible. Eagles have always been and are a danger to drones. Even wild eagles have the motivation to protect their personal space. Falcons would be enough for small drones, and large eagles would be suitable for larger drones. But eagles are active only during the day”, Lydia Katashuk said.
And he further added that “drones can be launched at night. And eagle owls will not fit here because they have a completely different manner of flight, a different manner of attacking the target.
That is, during the daytime – yes. This idea occurred to me long before the conflict. This is obvious to anyone familiar with birds.”
The drones deployed in combat are usually equipped with night vision to see clearly and accurately attack the designated target. The same cannot be applied to birds of any kind.
According to her, training a bird to attack a drone is quite easy. “Unmanned aerial vehicles have long been widely used to train birds. You will find many videos from Western Europe and the United States showing how birds are prepared for hunting with the help of UAVs. That is, birds are easily trained to attack drones. Preparation would take about a month,” says Lydia Katashuk.
Use Of Birds Won’t Be A First
The idea floated by the Russian lawmaker was dismissed as “bizarre” by some military watchers and pro-Ukraine netizens who mocked it. However, Russia won’t be the first country to train and use birds, including eagles, to eliminate suspicious and hostile Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
Earlier, media reports indicated that the Indian Army had trained eagles to take down airborne enemy spy drones. The Indian army has faced the challenge posed by the alleged supply of weapons and drugs from across the Pakistan border, for which eagles and other prey birds have been chosen as interceptors.
The predatory birds were taught by the Indian Army how to destroy enemy drones flying overhead. During the joint military exercise, the 18th edition of Yudh Abhyas, conducted between India and the US in Uttarakhand, one of the birds was revealed for the first time. It was a kite with a camera mounted on its head.
— ANI (@ANI) November 29, 2022
Footage from the military exercise showed the bird taking off from the hand of a soldier, which then went on to grab an on-air target and dropped it off at a distance.
Besides India, European countries like The Netherlands have trained and deployed eagles. According to a previous report by BBC, the Dutch Police was the first force in the world to use this unusual method of eliminating drones.
The Dutch police trained the birds. Due to their powerful claws and talons, the birds could attack the drones without getting wounded. However, the police ceased such operations just over a year later.
Similarly, Switzerland also adopted this unique method whereby the Swiss Eagles, called Altair and Draco, were tasked with conducting anti-drone operations in the country to protect dignitaries. However, the avian protection squadron was disbanded due to various safety concerns.
Whether the Russians would raise an eagle interceptor squadron amid rising drone attacks is unknown. However, if it decides to go ahead with the idea, it won’t be the first and certainly not the only country to do so.
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