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Army’s training eagles & falcons to swoop down on hostile drones

  • Published
    30th Nov, 2022
Context

The army is putting a flock of avian recruits to drag down quadcopter drones and deploying the same on surveillance exercises.

Details:

  • Indian Army was seen using eagles in the ongoing Indo-US military exercise (Yudh Abhyas), in Uttarakhand.
  • Remount Veterinary Corps (RVC) Centre in Meerut has been quietly training black eagles and falcons to take down quadcopters.
  • RVC, has aced the training and deployment of dogs in the armed forces

Remount Veterinary Corps: It is an administrative and operational branch of the Indian Army, and one of its oldest formations. It is responsible for the breeding, rearing and training of all animals used in the army.

Quadcopter: It is a type of helicopter with four rotors, now a popular design for small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones — in the air.

  • The majority of these birds have been rescued, part of the Falcon Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre.
  • A large number of birds have been in training for this mission since 2020.

About Yudh Abhyas:

  • The 18th Edition of India-US Joint Exercise.
  • It is an annual exercise. It focuses on the employment of an integrated battle group under Chapter VII of the UN Mandate.
  • Joint Exercise aims to enhance interoperability.
  • It aims at sharing the expertise between both Armies in Peace Keeping
  • It aims at enhancing Disaster Relief Operations.

Need of the initiative:

  • The incidents of unmanned aerial vehicles bringing drugs, arms and ammunition from across the border have more than doubled since 2021.
  • The frequency of incoming drones is on the increase on the India-Pakistan border.
  • Despite having a state-of-the-art laboratory to study drones in Delhi the authorities say that there is no silver bullet to manage it completely.
  • Hence, Training eagles to counter the drone problem in India make a suitable option.

History of animals being used during the conflict:

  • Homing pigeons being used in the World Wars
  • Hawks being unleashed by the Germans to catch them in the Franco-Prussian war.
  • Dogs that find bombs and drugs and dolphins that detect mines.
  • China uses the unusual trio: of falcons, macaques and hunting dogs to protect its military sites.

Telangana’s Garuda Squad:

  • In 2020, the Telangana government gave the state’s Integrated Intelligence Training Academy (IIITA) the go-ahead to create the Garuda Squad.
  • It trains birds to neutralize drones during VIP/VVIP visits/programmes in the state.

The Netherlands:

  • The Dutch Police 2016 began working with the company Guard from Above.
  • It claims that it is “the world’s first company specialized in training birds of prey to intercept hostile drones.
  • The eagles had a success percentage of 80 per cent with handlers keeping the birds in line by offering pieces of meat as a reward.

Scotland Yard:

  • It is examining the deployment of bald eagles amid concerns that the pilot-less aircraft can be used to smuggle items and drop explosives by terrorists.

Significance:

  • The animal instinct of a bird of prey is unique. They are made to be able to overpower fast-moving prey.
  • The millennium-old art of falconry has an advantage over gun use.
  • They are safer to deploy in cases where large crowds are present.
  • However, animal rights lovers expressed concern about the eagles being seriously injured and even killed by drone blades.
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