The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently released video of what the agency claims to be the first successful live-fire test of a guided .50-caliber bullet. The tests were part of DARPA’s EXACTO program, an effort to create state-of-the-art systems to increase the effectiveness of military marksmen.
“For military snipers, acquiring moving targets in unfavorable conditions, such as high winds and dusty terrain commonly found in Afghanistan, is extremely challenging with current technology,” DARPA states on its website. “It is critical that snipers be able to engage targets faster, and with better accuracy, since any shot that doesn’t hit a target also risks the safety of troops by indicating their presence and potentially exposing their location.”
To that end, developers working in the EXACTO program have set the goal of creating a maneuverable bullet that can change its own path during flight to curve around obstacles. The specially-designed rounds contain a host of optical guidance and real-time tracking systems that DARPA touts as beyond what current technologies can offer.
In the video below, you can see the EXACTO rounds hitting targets offset from where the rifle was pointed.
DARPA was founded in 1958 in response to the launch of the satellite Sputnik by the Soviet Union. At the time, the launch of Sputnik had come as a surprise—and a reminder that the Soviet Union was capable of surpassing US technology. DARPA’s role was to counter these kinds of surprises and develop new technologies that would secure America’s place on the world stage. Although DARPA is under the umbrella of the Department of Defense and many of its projects are for use by the military, many technologies have been introduced by the agency into the fields of computer networking, aerospace, and even the creation of the modern GPS.
Image courtesy DARPA