DARPA’s Smart Sniper Bullet Hits Moving Targets


The Pentagon proved in a winter test that its guided small-caliber bullet could hit a moving target with accuracy.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) released a video Monday showing the smart bullet changing trajectory mid flight to track and hit a moving target.

Called the Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) program, DARPA engineers plan to “revolutionize rifle accuracy and range by developing the first ever guided small-caliber bullet.” DARPA officials said they want the 50-caliber round and optical sighting technology to “extend the day and nighttime range over current state-of-the-art sniper systems.”

The program has entered Phase II of development, which includes “design, integration and demonstration of aero-actuation controls, power sources, optical guidance systems, and sensors,” according to DARPA.

Agency officials released video in July 2014 of its first round of successful testing that shows the bullet adapting course after it’s fired from a sniper rifle.

The most recent test for moving targets was filmed Feb. 26 and can be found here for mobile users.

  • msgingram

    I sure hope they deploy a lot of these. It would be nice to let the enemy get the surprise on their lives. The biggest problem will be heat, the .50 puts some real heat on the barrel and the shooter will need to be very selective on the targets and then change their position rapidly when a few surprises are sent downrange. Plenty of money must be allowed for lots of training.

    • Leon Suchorski

      No more non-quals with this ammo. Everyone qualifies the first time through.

  • joshua

    is it laser guider or command guided? I imagine an elevated “crows” type station with a designator and some 50’s here and there. Point and shoot..

    • JCitizen

      If I was designing it, I would use what could be a fairly simple photo cell sensor wirelessly guiding the bullet path from the cross hair to the target, relative to the light emitting from the back of the bullet. I tried to post a longer explanation earlier but got trashed by the weird posting policy here.

      The science concerning the bullet would take me more than the administrator here is willing to allow.

  • Muttling

    The trajectory in the video looks quite odd. The path to apex is normal and fairly flat then the drop past apex is stupidly quick for any projo. The adjusted trajectory looks more like a typical flight path for a heavy bullet like the .50 cal. Thus, the adjusted flight path looks like a normal flight path while the initial flight path looks unrealistic.

    Also, the correction shown is not left or right, only a correction for range so the target would have to be moving directly toward or away from the shooter for this to work (assuming it is legit.) They’ve been trying to develop this technology for years and may have something, but this report shows nothing worthwhile.

  • guest

    This is stuff right out of the science fiction novels.

    • Leon Suchorski

      Tom Selleck and Gene Simmons starred in a movie about these “smart bullets”. I believe that the title was “ROBOT SQUAD”. The movie also had Stan Shaw, Cynthia Rhodes, and Kirstie Allie in it.

      • Leon Suchorski

        Correct that to “RUNAWAY SQUAD”.

        • Ray

          correct that to “Runaway”


        The name of the movie was RUNAWAY. And that was an actual miniature guided missile.Awesome movie for it’s time.

  • Brad

    Does anybody know the FPS of the new round?

  • Eric B.

    Looks like it would have to be laser guided, given the small size of even a .50 BMG round. That means either a laser equipped spotter or a laser equipped riflescope.
    >Any round that can be guided must have some kind of steering/trajectory propellant(s) to enable it to make nano-second course corrections. The changes in bullet path evident in the video abruptly changed not only yaw but trajectory.

    >Likely the next generation of sniper scopes will have laser range finding & targeting capabilities like the Burris Eliminator III, which, for the money, is a very good piece of technology in itself. Combine that with a round that can “follow” a laser and you’ve got near 100% first round hits.

    • HunterGuy

      No propellants should be needed once fired to change trajectories. This can all be done using fins. Like steering a boat through water it will just steer a bullet through air.

    • JCitizen

      It seems my comments are being automatically deleted – perhaps they think I’m giving away secrets? This is standard knowledge stuff, not rocket science!

      • Leon Suchorski

        Actually you are wrong, since this Is more of rocket science. Once the “bullet” is launched, science takes over to make sure that it hits the target.

        • JCitizen

          Well at least they aren’t deleting your posts!

        • Micah

          Actually since the intent of the propelled round is to penetrate, most likely a human body with tremendous accuracy, wouldn’t this be “Rocket Surgery”?


        No idea what that is all about. I had that happen to me a few months back. And I was following the comment policy……..

  • Eric B.

    BTW, this guided small arms round would be an excellent round for defense against airborne threats, including or especially UAVs.

  • Leo Johnson

    If a person really knows how to shoot at a moving target he/she doesn’t need a “Smart Bullet”.

    • seans

      You ever take a shot at a target past 1500 yards? This is tech that is going to allow someone to engage people at a 50cals max range, not its effective range.

      • JCitizen

        It is exceedingly difficult just to hit a stationary target at just over 1000 yards. The ballistic arc requires what was a very special scope when I first started playing with such weapons, years ago. In fact – at the time I had no knowledge of the required optics at the time, and had to abandon my project. If I had the money back then, for a Sherwood scope or better, I might have continued my work.

  • seans

    I love how the stock photo shows a shooting pair who have no clue what they are doing.

    • Rooftop Voter

      Want to laugh and/or get really ticked? Watch this video about shooting the Barrett M82. These so called experts do so many things wrong I had to stop and rewind many times. Watch the guy put his thumb on the charging handle around the 12 minute mark. Somewhere in that area. Really hilarious how these ‘experts’ do not know what they are doing.

  • Eric B.

    Yep, the photo shows the “spotter” liking in a totally different azimuth from the shooter’s line of aim. (Looking for a second target?? :o)

    • seans

      My comment was about how the sniper doesn’t even look like he has the sandbag properly set up, and the spotter is one of the absolutely worst positions possible when shooting the Barret. The M107 is a absolute nightmare to spot for due to that distinctive muzzle brake, bout the only place you can spot is by sitting directly on your shooter.


    Troops would know how to shoot well if they actually got range time……..

  • LL

    WOW I can fire at a target and unintentionally or intentionally miss the target. PERSUASION AT ITS BEST

  • Larry

    I hope we never find out how it works because if we know so will the Russians & Chinese.