Watch out Taliban. The art of sniping is about to get a whole lot deadlier.
U.S. Army snipers could soon have access to a new .50-caliber bullet that would make them the most precise shooters on the planet.
The Defense Department is funding development of the EXACTO bullet, which can change directions mid-air. The bullet is fitted with a sensor which works in tune with a laser. The sniper aims the laser at his target, lighting it up. If the target moves or weather patterns change, the laser follows the target, and the bullet follows the guiding light.
The Defense Department’s research arm has recently released a video showing the bullet in action (see video below).
EXACTO stands for “extreme accuracy tasked ordnance.” The system, developed by Teledyne Scientific & Imaging with funding from the DOD’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA, greatly expands a shooter’s range.
The longest “hit” ever recorded by a sniper is 1.5 miles by a shooter from the United Kingdom. A shot at that range can take 3 seconds to reach its target and is extremely difficult because the trajectory of the bullet becomes even more sensitive to wind, rain, the earth’s gravitational pull and even humidity. But a sniper using EXACTO rounds could strike a target with relative ease from even further than 1.5 miles.
For military snipers, who usually work in teams of two, having a .50-caliber bullet with these type of capabilities would be a game-changer in places like Afghanistan or Iraq.
“Acquiring moving targets in unfavorable conditions such as high winds and dusty terrain commonly found in Afghanistan, is extremely challenging with current technology,” DARPA said a statement on its website.
Not only will the snipers hit more targets, but they will also be able to better protect their own location. With current technology, a missed shot can give away a sniper’s position, making him or her vulnerable to counter attack.
Ted Catchel, professor emeritus at the Naval War College said the system is a very interesting development.
“I don’t know if you push a button and it takes over. I just couldn’t find out enough about the system to know how it works,” he told Stars and Stripes. “You still need to train these snipers in the traditional methods. Right now, sniping is a real precise art.”
“The EXACTO system seeks to improve sniper effectiveness and enhance troop safety by allowing greater shooting standoff range and reduction in target engagement timelines,” DARPA said in the statement.
The video below shows EXACTO rounds maneuvering in flight to hit targets that are offset from where the sniper rifle is aimed.
The “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,” DARPA said.
DARPA is not releasing any details on the system other than the video and a graphic explains the basics of the technology.
WND requested information on when the new bullet might be available to U.S. sniper teams and what the cost will be, per round, but a spokesman from DARPA public affairs said the agency was not releasing any information at this time other than what was on its website.