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
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

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Developer - HTML, CSS, Javascript

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Application Developer - ...

    Day In a Page

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?