Imagine yourself engaging a distant target moving rapidly across an open field. You fire, quickly see that the trajectory will place the bullet's impact behind the target, and watch as the bullet's path changes mid-flight so that it strikes the moving target center mass.
Sounds like science fiction, right?
Well, this kind of technology is exactly what the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) responsible for developing emerging technologies for the military, is working on. According to a recent press release, DARPA's Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) program, which devised a self-steering bullet to increase hit probability for difficult long-range shots, completed one of its most successful live-fire tests this past February.
The EXACTO system, which pairs specially designed ammunition with a real-time optical guidance system to help track and direct projectiles to their targets while compensating for weather, wind, target movement and other factors, performed well in the evaluation. During the tests, an experienced shooter was able to repeatedly hit "moving and evading targets," and an inexperienced shooter using the system for the first time also hit a moving target.
"True to DARPA's mission, EXACTO has demonstrated what was once thought impossible: the continuous guidance of a small-caliber bullet to target," Jerome Dunn, DARPA program manager said. "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."
DARPA also released a video showing footage of the EXACTO projectiles maneuvering in flight to strike moving and accelerating targets, which can be viewed below.