DARPA’s New Smart Sniper Bullet


The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency recently conducted the first successful live-fire tests demonstrating in-flight guidance of .50-caliber bullets, program officials maintain.

The Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance program, known as EXACTO, is being developed to “revolutionize rifle accuracy and range by developing the first ever guided small-caliber bullet,” DARPA officials maintain. “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, officials say.

This video shows EXACTO rounds maneuvering in flight to hit targets that are offset from where the sniper rifle is aimed.

About the Author

Matthew Cox
Matthew Cox has been a defense reporter since 1998 and is an associate editor for Military.com. He traveled to Afghanistan and Iraq numerous times from 2002 to 2008, covering infantry units in combat. Matthew was an infantryman in the 82nd Airborne Division.

18 Comments on "DARPA’s New Smart Sniper Bullet"

  1. Holy moly bat man!

  2. Now that guy with the ammo truck at his position trying to qualify could be a sniper and zero in three rounds.

  3. Now that can be a valuable asset in windy conditions. No need to wait for the perfect conditions to take the shot. I can see a new record distance shot being taken with this round.

  4. Truly fulfilling a long hoped for advance. Turning to access targets behind substantial cover ? wow.

  5. this is video games now

  6. OK, based on what we see here and what is on the internet it looks like the system uses an optical tracking device/sight at the shooters position that send guidance signals to the bullet that directs it to where the sight is "looking". Sort of like the TOW missile but without the wire. Sounds like a good idea if the communications are not affected by dust, fog, or moisture in the air between the shooter and the target. A .50 round should cover 2000 meters in between 3-5 seconds, which doesn't look like too long of a time for the shooter to stay in position.

  7. Barney Rubble | July 15, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Reply

    Bullplop. Utter bullplop. What happened to marksman ship training and math skills needed to train snipers for battle? Do any of you want to be around when that round guidance fails or the target in question moves from the position selected and the round is fooled by advanced camouflage ? What about EMP or spectrum interference? Even the most advanced testing does not account for any variations from the basic design due to the items I mention nor does it take the place of proper training at the unit and squad level. Well all I got to say is man, I am glad that I am no longer serving….the military today relies too much on technology to compensate for pee poor leadership, training and other short coming created by pee poor leadership and “yes” men dedicated to shortening the life span of the American soldier.

  8. I can see where this type of techno advanced ammo could be beneficial but I feel like advanced training is always more important than technology , a well trained sniper don't usually miss their target

  9. wow just like in the old school cartoons!!! I wonder if the bullet will be able to talk also?. I am sure that's next , I think its great and can't wait until they get it into smaller rounds for the regular troops. Embrace technology that's what Grant said and I think he was 100% correct.

  10. Even If this system can be made to perform reliably, which I doubt, I do not think it will ever be made cost efficient enough to get past the ruthless bean counters who care little for the needs of the infantryman. A better, and easier to fund, approach would be to use a 'ruggedized' version of the new Tracking Point technology and a match grade. but nonetheless 'dumb' bullet. That has a much better chance of getting funded. Eventually simplified Tracking Point red dots could even be mounted on infantry M4's, leading to a major advance in capability. Now if we could only get a piston system into that carbine . . .

  11. I was told in 1971 that 7.62mm M188 Lake City Ammo cost Uncle Sam 27 cents each, I didn't waste a one…how about making rifle marksmanship the priority task again in the military? The Marines do it everyone else wise up. Co C 75th Inf 173 Abn Bde (Sep)/ 1st FF RVN 70-71.

  12. I;m note quite sure how the round maintains it's muzzle velocity In the second graphic the round was fired at something beyond the desired target. When it actually got on top of the desired target, it just seemed to basically drop down on top of it, almost 90%. I'm probably missing something, like 8 years of physics and engineering, but I don't know how it maintains it's speed. It's like a little guided missle it seems.

  13. It is about aiding the sniper to perform better and will not replace talent. Nothing nasty about it.

  14. edward girouard | July 16, 2014 at 7:06 am | Reply

    you don't get to say "ouch" with a 50

  15. This like any weapon needs to be practiced with, and a lot of practice not just a few days at the range. There also needs to be training with standard .50 while doing the practice as it will be the principle round sent downrange in a combat area due availability in the field for the sophisticated round and possible mal function due to rough handling and conditions. It has been quoted that fog, rain , dust and other conditions are not really counted on with this type of munition accuracy.

  16. Just something else to be used against it’s citizens. More tax payers money spent on the science to kill.
    Another high tech arsenal against civilians.

  17. Bet DHS buys this ammo by the truck load.

  18. Next for covert work this new generation ammo will have a DNA sample and will seek out it's target in a crowd fired from a pistol….it's really getting kind of scary when a bullet literally has your name on it…..

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