During the ongoing joint training exercise Yuddh Abhyas between India and the United States in Uttarakhand’s Auli, the Indian Army showcased a unique sight - kite birds trained to prey on enemy drones. These kites were shown in action during the exercise and a kite with the code name “Arjun" that was trained to hunt and kill enemy drones was demonstrated in action

Auli: An Indian Army soldier with a Black Kite bird named ‘Arjun’, trained by the Indian Army to prey on enemy drones during India-US joint exercise ‘Yudh Abhyas’, at Auli in Uttarakhand, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022.

What Did The Army Demonstrate During The Exercise?

During the training, the Indian Army acted out a scenario in which they were able to locate and destroy enemy drones with the assistance of a dog and a kite. The scenario was modelled after a real-world situation. A kite was flown in order to determine the precise location of the drones. Within the context of this scenario, the dog alerts the Indian Army to the danger posed by the drone after hearing its sound. While this is happening, the kite is also able to determine the precise location of the enemy drone and encircle it while it is in the air.

Why Are Birds Being Trained?

Soldiers from the Indian Army are training kites to hunt enemy drones in a first-of-its-kind deployment of these birds. in addition to using trained dogs for a variety of missions, officials from the Indian Army stated.

If the security forces in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir had access to a capability of this kind, they might be able to reduce the risk that is posed by drones flying in from the other side of the border and entering Indian territory in those two states.

There have been multiple reports that Pakistani drones have delivered shipments of illegal substances, firearms, and cash to the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir as well as Punjab. According to reports, these shipments originated in Pakistan.

How Are The Birds Trained?

The venture is not new, and Dutch police have reportedly been employing the use of eagles to take down drones since 2016. According to a report by Labmate online, Dutch cops in partnership with prey training group Guards From Above, trained eagles to recognise the flying machines as prey, then disable the propellers with their talons.

According to the report the Remount Veterinary Corps (RVC) Centre in Meerut has been secretly training black eagles and falcons to bring down quadcopters in the sky. A quadcopter is a type of helicopter that has four rotors and is currently a popular design for small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones.

The report quoted a source in the defence establishment as saying, “the eagles have taken down several hundred of them (quadcopters) in training, at times destroying them completely. Since these are quadcopters, none of the eagles have been injured so far.”

The majority of these birds, according to the report, are ones that were rescued and are now being cared for at the Falcon Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre. Since the year 2020, a significant number of birds have been participating in training for this mission.

And because the modern drones used by both possible enemies and their own side are now larger in size, the trainers at the RVC have also been training these birds for the purpose of surveillance, stated the report. As a result, the birds’ heads have been outfitted with video cameras so that they can record footage.

The report quoted another source as saying that the birds are very possessive of their territories and when are released in a certain region, immediately begin to establish their own territory by drawing a circle around themselves. “As time passes, this circle keeps expanding, and the bird is able to carry out surveillance over a large area," they were quoted as saying.

The training is being carried out by means of positive reinforcement, and a handler has been designated for each bird, adding that the efforts are still in the training phase, and the eagles have not yet been deployed in an operational capacity.