Smart bullets that steer to find their targets are coming soon – maybe not to a gun store shelf near you but at least to the military.
The guided bullets program began as a highly classified project seven years ago, but footage of their recent tests is now public.
The guided bullets were developed by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) firearms experts as a part of their EXACTO project. (DARPA is a military agency.) The smart bullets have been able to hit both moving and evading targets repeatedly during testing.
Self-steering bullets underwent live-fire testing by DARPA shooters in February. DARPA noted in a recent public release that the .50 caliber smart bullets have passed their most advanced live-fire tests to date.
The bullets are specifically made for long-distance shots.
“An experienced shooter using the technology … repeatedly hit moving and evading targets,” DARPA said in a press release. “Additionally, a novice shooter using the system for the first time hit a moving target.”
The bullets literally can turn in mid-air to hit a moving target, even if it is accelerating.
“True to DARPA’s mission, EXACTO has demonstrated what was once thought impossible: the continuous guidance of a small-caliber bullet to target,” Jerome Dunn, DARPA program manager, told CNN.
“This live-fire demonstration from a standard rifle showed that EXACTO is able to hit moving and evading targets with extreme accuracy at sniper ranges unachievable with traditional rounds. Fitting EXACTO’s guidance capabilities into a small .50-caliber size is a major breakthrough and opens the door to what could be possible in future guided projectiles across all calibers.”
The DARPA press release stated:
This video shows EXACTO rounds maneuvering in flight to hit targets that are offset from where the sniper rifle is aimed. EXACTO’s specially designed ammunition and real-time optical guidance system help track and direct projectiles to their targets by compensating for weather, wind, target movement, and other factors that could impact successful hit. The EXACTO program is developing new approaches and advanced capabilities to improve the range and accuracy of sniper systems beyond the current state of the art.
DARPA also stated that the EXACTO smart bullets will allow military snipers to find and hit targets even in extremely unfavorable weather and geographic conditions, such as the rugged terrain found in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.