Text: Fredrik Tandberg. Translation: Aleksander Jankov. Video and photo: Brigade Nord
Their task is normally to ensure and sustain the situational awareness in the Armoured Battalion of Brigade Nord. Sunday 6 March turned out to become an extraordinary day for the experienced drone pilots.
– We were cruising steadily and conducting surveillance on Swedish main battle tanks in our area. Suddenly an eagle appeared, and I witnessed a spectacular situation unfold, Håkon said.
He is one of the drone pilots in Brigade Nord, and he is assigned to the Cavalry Squadron of the Armoured Battalion (1Btn/Brigade Nord).
The drone was eventually recovered, but heavily marked and damaged.
Drama at 1,500 feet
Together with the Norwegian brigade and 11,000 other allied and partnering soldiers, the pilots are participating in the biannual winter exercise Cold Response. The exercise is an invitational exercise in the central Norwegian region of Trøndelag.
– We were floating in the up drifting wind and hardly running at any engine power, when out of the blue a large eagle came less than eight meters from the drone. At first we did not understand it, but the eagle launched an attack on the drone, Håkon explains.
The Raven drone has an automatic return-to-base function, and the pilot was desperately trying to override the function and manually return the aircraft to its point of origin.
– At first we thought it was returning to base. However, during the attack it damaged its wing and thus it crashed, Håkon says.
Shortly after the crash, Norwegian soldiers recovered it and it became apparent that the assailant had left clear traces on the aircraft.
– There were scratches from the eagle's claws on the wing.
Never heard of anything like this before
The unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) that are used by all CABs in Brigade Nord are of the type RQ-11 Raven. This is a small hand-launched and remotely controlled miniature UAV, specifically designed to support ground units with information about the situation in a designated target area.
It is an effective tool to foster speed and agility in modern combined arms manoeuvre operations.
– I have never heard of anything like this in Norway, but Dutch police ostensibly train eagles to take out small drones. Perhaps this was a Swedish counter-drone eagle, Håkon laughs.