DARPA's Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) program, is developing a self-steering bullet to increase hit rates for difficult, long-distance shots. EXACTO ammunition uses a guidance system in the bullet to keep it on target, allowing it to compensate for weather and other factors that might push it off course, DARPA officials said. (DARPAtv via YouTube)

The Pentagon’s effort to develop sniper ammunition that can turn in mid-flight has passed a new milestone, with both expert marksmen and novice shooters hitting targets in a new test, military officials said.

The Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) program completed in February its most recent live-fire tests to date, officials with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said this week. They released the video above, which depicts the ammunition adjusting to hit a target that is moving and accelerating.

[DARPA’s new experimental sniper bullet can turn in mid-flight]

“True to DARPA’s mission, EXACTO has demonstrated what was once thought impossible: the continuous guidance of a small-caliber bullet to target,” said Jerome Dunn, the program’s manager. “This live-fire demonstration from a standard rifle showed that EXACTO is able to hit moving and evading targets with extreme accuracy at sniper ranges unachievable with traditional rounds. Fitting EXACTO’s guidance capabilities into a small .50-caliber size is a major breakthrough and opens the door to what could be possible in future guided projectiles across all calibers.”

A visual representation, as presented by DARPA:


This image released by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency shows how its experimental sniper round can turn in mid-flight. (DARPA image)

The .50-caliber ammunition EXACTO focused on is among the most common sizes used by military snipers. As noted in this earlier Checkpoint piece, it can knock down targets at 2,000 meters, but the farther away something is, the more difficult it is to strike.

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EXACTO ammunition uses a guidance system in the bullet to keep it on target, allowing it to compensate for weather and other factors that might push it off course, DARPA officials said. Specifics about the guidance system are classified.

A previous demonstration of the ammunition looked like this:

The Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) program, funded by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), recently conducted the first successful live-fire tests of its new, experimental .50-caliber sniper ammunition. (DARPA)

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