21:54, 09 August 2020
watch on Dushanbe time, GMT+5
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Born killers: French army grooms eagles to down drones

Faced with the risk of drones being used to snoop or carry out attacks

on French soil, the air force is showing its claws. At Mont-de-Marsan in southwestern France a quartet of fearsome golden eagles is being trained to take out unmanned aircraft in mid-flight. The roar of a departing Rafale fighter jet gives way to the buzz of a drone lifting into the air on a runway at the air base, some 130 kilometres (80 miles) south of Bordeaux. Suddenly, a loud squawk fills the air as a beady-eyed eagle bears down at breakneck speed from a control tower 200 metres away. In about 20 seconds the raptor has the drone between its talons, then pins it to the ground and covers it with its broad brown wings. The drone has been destroyed: Mission accomplished for D'Artagnan. The valiant bird is one of four feathered fighters -- along with Athos, Porthos and Aramis, all characters in French novelist Alexandre Dumas's "The Three Musketeers" -- being put through their paces since mid-2016.