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The U.S. Military Has Developed Self-Steering Bullets

Hi-tech bullets can help snipers hit moving targets

(Chad Hunt/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

Earlier this week, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced a major breakthrough in developing a system to help snipers hit moving targets: bullets that can change directions mid-air.

This might sound like ammunition that a cartoon character might carry, but the military has been actively pursuing the technology for years. Snipers often deal with windy situations, where sudden gusts can throw off their aim and clouds of dust can block their view. (Not to mention a soldier with shaky hands.)

Enter DARPA’s Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordinance program (EXACTO). Tasked with developing a way to help snipers accurately hit moving targets in bad weather conditions, the group successfully ran a live-fire test in February, DARPA announced in a press release Monday.

“EXACTO has demonstrated what was once thought impossible: the continuous guidance of a small-caliber bullet to target,” said Jerome Dunn, DARPA program manager, in the press release. “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.”

Now that the group has designed a working targeting system for .50 caliber bullets, they believe they can expand the technology into a range of firearms, says Dunn.

A video released by DARPA demonstrates the targeting system’s effectiveness in the hands of both a seasoned sniper and a novice shooter. You can watch EXACTO in action here:

About Danny Lewis

Danny Lewis is a multimedia journalist working in print, radio, and illustration. He focuses on stories with a health/science bent and has reported some of his favorite pieces from the prow of a canoe. Danny is based in Brooklyn, NY.

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