The eagle flies on Thursday: how vultures protect NATO from drones

EPA/KOEN VAN WEEL

The eagle flies on Thursday: how vultures protect NATO from drones


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Since September 2016, the Dutch army has been working with a new species of recruits: eagles trained to attack drones. A special Dutch army is training golden eagles to spot drones and perform mid-air takedowns.

 Their mission is very precise: to intercept drones that would fly over certain forbidden areas, such as the Brussels metropolis and especially the NATO HQ, the European institutions and the Brussels airport.
Experts say it would be very easy for a drone to launch an explosive device on the world’s most important politicians gathered in the courtyard of the new NATO headquarters, when the 29 NATO leaders (and a few guests) come together today to Inaugurate the new NATO headquarters. Of course, some 2,500 policemen are mobilized around the NATO area, including some from Luxembourg, without counting the US special agents arriving with Trump, but a Dutch team specializing in drones surveillance will play a very important role.
Named “Guard from Above”, this team works with trained eagles. The birds are able to attack and destroy any type of drones. In the case of small drones, the eagle can swoop and

seize the drone in talons in a few seconds, grab it with their claws, and slam it down to the ground, diverting it from its path.

In the case of large drones, the eagle’s mission can be suicidal, because of the propeller’s force. The members of the Dutch special team explain that the legs and claws of the vultures have special protection, especially the claws.
These are golden vultures, similar to the one that is the symbol of the United States. They only weigh six pounds, but their wings can stretch to about six feet. It is for the first time that this bird team is deployed on such a scale, around NATO headquarters and the Zaventem airport in Brussels.
Birds are not the only protection hovering over NATO. Two Agusta A-109 helicopters fly continuously above the NATO headquarters, and F-16 airplanes are ready to take off at the nearby military airport, being in stand-by 365 days a year.
And, of course, on all the roofs are deployed elite shooters also trained in the drones, in case the eagles fail.
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