So here it is: DARPA’s (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) unlisted YouTube video of the Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) program‘s first successful live-fire tests demonstration of in-flight guidance for .50-caliber bullets. “This video shows EXACTO rounds maneuvering in flight to hit targets that are offset from where the sniper rifle is initially aimed. EXACTO’s 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 aim.” TrackingPoint that! What are the odds Uncle Sam will ban the round for civilian use? [h/t you know who you are]

26 Responses to DARPA EXACTO Test Reveals Self-Guided .50-cal Rounds

  1. It almost looks like a tiny rocket motor is burning, or is it my imagination?

    Cost per round must be quite exceptional, but worthwhile if the sniper only has a short opportunity for a shot, and conditions are too rough to guarantee a hit otherwise.

      • Buzzy243, these appear to go way beyond tracer rounds, which simply allow one to see the paths of the bullets as they are fired. These newly-developed bullets evidently can change their course in mid-flight, thereby correcting any aiming error the shooter might have made. It looks to me as if eventually even an absolute tyro will be able to do a credible imitation of a Carlos Hathcock, Lyudmila Pavlichenko, or Chris Kyle, without long hours of practice.

      • Snipers don’t use tracer rounds. Besides giving their position away, tracers do not have the same ballistics as normal rounds, thus negating any advantage of “marking” a shot. The goal of snipers are to use only one shot to take out the target.

        Tracers are normally used in machine guns and rifles for area sighting when suppression is more important than marksmanship.

        • as snipers are going through training they not only fire match “sniper ammo” they also fire most every type (tracer, ball, etc.) and record the differences in trajectory/ballistics, when they are finished the sniper now has his data “DOPE”. an example of this would be a tracer round is used for spotting purposes (not common practice), when the impact of the tracer round is found or followed they may load a different type of ammo; look into their previous data from the range and know to adjust up or down accordingly.
          snipers frequently collect data using different type of rounds because if he runs out of his “sniper” ammunition there may be other ammunition around that he can us accurately if he has recorded data previously.
          if not he has a very expensive heavy stick.

  2. Fellas, watch this.

    I’m Angelina Jolie!

    At the very least these should make the NYPD unable to miss if you could make them for a handgun, although that might end up killing more innocent people.

    Would these be any use for hunting, or are normal hunting distances too short for guidance?

    • I believe the round homes in on a laser-painted target.

      Developed by John Smith at YOYODYNE for DARPA at the amazingly low cost of five billion dollars and 42 cents (S&H).

    • When the development of these was first talked about with us almost 10 years ago they were saying it would be IR guided via laser either mounted on our rifles (so basically use the scope to place the dot on target) or via another person entirely. One of the ideas was that you could have the guys out front in contact “designate” targets for the sniper who may be a km or more away.

      Anyway, I always wondered if they would be able to make the damn things durable enough to survive being fired out of the rifle just to start with. Them being able to do that and track on target consistently round after round will determine if these see use in the relatively near future of if they spend another decade or more working on them.

  3. 50 caliber is not cheap, adding all the electronic toys and laser will make this ridiculously expensive. Plus, this is still under research, not exactly mass produced yet.

  4. I saw a headline with a link to this video on yahoo that said, “Pentagon Successfully Tests First Small-Caliber, Self-Guided Bullets.”

    So when DARPA shoots a .50 caliber sniper rifle, its called a “small-caliber” bullet. But when I shoot my .223 varmint rifle, its called a “high-powered assault rifle.” Interesting...

  5. Will be interesting to see if they are legal for the civilian world. I imagine they’ll be costly though.

  6. Interesting technology. It raises a lot of questions. Here are a couple:

    If the round is guided aerodynamically, it would seem that they would have to be fired from a smooth bore. Seems to me that a round spinning at 130,000 RPM would have a hard time doing that flight dance (gyroscopic precession) .

    And time of flight/range could also be an issue. If the target is inside a certain range the round might not have enough time to make the necessary corrections.

  7. I just don’t see any way that this could be done with a traditional rifled barrel from a traditional .50 firearm

    There just isn’t enough energy or computing power that could be packed into a bullet that small to overcome the inertia generated from 600+ grains spinning at 275,000rpm

    Maybe it is a smoothbore?

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