Even the best sniper just got better: US defence agency successfully trials world's first self-guiding bullet

The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is attempting to find new military technologies that can aid sniper accuracy

A US military agency has conducted its first successful tests of guided bullets which can track a target regardless of external factors or even where the sniper rifle is aimed.

The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an arm of the Department of Defence, is developing a smart .50-calibre bullet which can not only compensate for weather fluctuations, but can also hit a moving target, rather like a guided missile.

The agency, which researches new technologies for use by the US military, announced its fruitful trials with a YouTube video demonstrating the in-flight guidance of the bullets.

It is being developed as part of the organisation’s Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) project, a programme tasked with improving “sniper effectiveness and troop safety” and to “revolutionise rifle accuracy and range by developing the first ever guided small-calibre bullet,” the governmental department says.

The bullets have fins and on-board computers to direct them towards laser-marked targets as far away as 1.2 miles.

The work is being carried out by a subsidiary of Maryland-based private defence firm Lockheed Martin and Teledyne Scientific & Imaging. In 2010 Teledyn received $25.5million in funding from the US government.

In a statement, DARPA said of its latest successful live-fire tests: “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 impede successful hits.

“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.”

The agency says that the reason it is creating a self-steering bullet and accompanying rifle is to help soldiers lock down targets while operating in “unfavourable conditions, such as high winds and dusty terrain commonly found in Afghanistan.”

The 50-calibre bullet which can hit a moving target The 50-calibre bullet which can hit a moving target DARPA is not the only organisation with its sights set on self-guided bullets. Sandia National Laboratories successfully hit laser-designated targets a mile away with a bullet prototype in 2012.

Justin Bronk, Research Analyst at The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) think tank, said that while it is expensive equipment, it could "greatly increase accuracy and precision in poor conditions" while reducing "the danger of collateral damage."

"This programme could potentially deliver significant accuracy and therefore effective range boost in difficult weather conditions or against moving targets for military sniper teams," Mr Bronk told The Independent.

"However, in incorporating the electronics and control surfaces necessary to effect guided course changes in flight, the terminal ballistics and penetrative power of the bullet will likely be adversely affected.

"There will also be a huge increase in the cost of each projectile which will limit such rounds to specialist sniper teams and the like, rather than being general issue for heavy machine gun teams and vehicles. "

While the technological developments are expected to help ground troops, concerns have been voiced over whether the smart ammunition will eventually be rolled out to the public.

Britain's Ministry of Defence has confirmed that it is not procuring similar weaponry.

The agency revealed earlier this week that it is developing an implantable microchip that can help to restore memory.

It wants to restore memory deficits experienced by current and former military personnel who have suffered traumatic brain injury.

The agency has joined with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) in the project.

READ MORE: US Army tests 'smart rifles'
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

    Recruitment Genius: Network Support Engineer

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Network Support Engineer is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Account Director - Tech Startup - Direct Your Own Career Path

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones