DARPA’s EXACTO self-guided bullet changes its course in-flight to accurately hit targets


The newest military technology pertaining to Tracking Point’s “smart” Precision-Guided Firearms have caused quite a furor – with the rifle’s ability to gauge variables, like the wind condition and even the motional attribute of the target. But before the unveiling of such 2015 gun models, DARPA had already tested their guided bullets that can be fired from sniper rifles. Yes, guided bullets! Christened as EXACTO (acronym for Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance), these advanced bullets are all about enhanced precision in their intended flight from a greater distance.

Touted to be the world’s first ever self-guided small-caliber bullet, the EXACTO can for all-intents-and-purposes change its course while in the middle of its flight. The engineers however have still not divulged the exact technology that has gone into its working scope. But based on the probability of the system’s similarity to laser-guided bombs, these .50-caliber projectiles might utilize optical sensors embedded within their nose section. These sensors would be responsible for detecting the dynamic target, and then collecting the bullet’s in-flight data. This compiled info in turn is then possibly sent to the projectile’s internal electronic setup – that may ultimately ‘influence’ the bullet to potentially alter its airborne direction.

Such ‘navigational’ aspects are obviously not just for the sake of gimmick. According to DARPA, the maneuverable bullets can prove to be quite effective during both the day and night-time range – a scope which is less trodden by current sniping technologies. In fact, their website clearly mentions –

The objective of the EXACTO program is to revolutionize rifle accuracy and range by developing the first ever guided small-caliber bullet. The EXACTO 50- caliber round and optical sighting technology expects to greatly extend the day and nighttime range over current state-of-the-art sniper systems. The system combines a maneuverable bullet and a real-time guidance system to track and deliver the projectile to the target, allowing the bullet to change path during flight to compensate for any unexpected factors that may drive it off course.

The video below also demonstrates the self-guiding capability of the EXACTO, with the bullet clearly changing its path to accurately hit a target. However, one of the major parameters of this test still remains undisclosed, and that entails the actual effective range of the guided bullet.

Tests conducted in April, 2014 –

[UPDATE] Tests conducted in February, 2015 –

Source: DARPA

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