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'
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

    Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

    Ashdown Group: Linux Administrator - London - £50,000

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator ...

    Ashdown Group: Business Intelligence Analyst - London - £45,000

    £40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SQL Server Reporting Analyst (Busine...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower