Sometimes, nature and technology don’t always mix, and such is the case with airplanes and birds. The U.S. Air Force is using falcons–the real bird–to protect its own Fighting Falcons–the man-made F16 jets–against flying birds near or in airspace needed by the Air Force. Birds present a threat to jets as a bird strike, where a bird gets caught in an airplane’s engine and can be deadly to airplanes.
At an Air Force base in Germany, Ronald Leu of the 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron has been training falcons to scare away nearby birds making it safer for the Air Force’s own F16 falcons to fly. A bird of prey nearby or one that is hunting will typically scare away other birds in the area, reducing the risk of a bird strike.
Typically, the falcon will strike a bird, and Leu will quickly meet with the predator to control how much the bird eats. If the falcon is still hungry, it will continue to patrol the area and keep other birds away from the Air Force’s jets.
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