You may have seen the movie Wanted. Sure, the movie was almost unrecognizable from the Mark Millar comic book series it was very loosely based on. But that didn’t stop anyone from pretending to be a bullet-curving, badass, supervillain-with-a-heart sniper like Angelina Jolie after seeing it.
But the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) new self-steering bullet is about to change the pretend part into reality.
As part of its Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) program, DARPA has been developing a .50 caliber ammunition that can maneuver in flight. To be clear, it can change direction after being fired from a weapon.
A post on DARPA’s website describes EXACTO’s specially designed bullet as using a “real-time optical guidance system” that tracks and directs the bullets right to their targets.
This guiding system is what ensures the high accuracy rate of snipers regardless of external factors that could affect the trajectory of the bullet, such as weather or target movement.
“For military snipers, acquiring moving targets in unfavorable conditions, such as high winds and dusty terrain commonly found in Afghanistan, is extremely challenging with current technology,” DARPA said. “It is critical that snipers be able to engage targets faster, and with better accuracy, since any shot that doesn’t hit a target also risks the safety of troops by indicating their presence and potentially exposing their location.”
In 2014, DARPA demoed its guided sniper bullets for the first time. The video showed the EXACTO bullets, changing direction in mid-flight, like it was almost following its target.
Live-Fire tests were conducted February 2015, which showed the EXACTO rounds self-steering itself to hit not just moving, but also accelerating targets.
“True to DARPA’s mission, EXACTO has demonstrated what was once thought impossible: the continuous guidance of a small-caliber bullet to target,” said Jerome Dunn, DARPA program manager. “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.”
See the full video below: