Sniper teams remain the most lethal force on the battlefield and have been credited with many successful engagements. As effective as sniper teams are however, their accuracy is fundamentally limited by random variables such as changing winds, muzzle velocity dispersions and round-to-round variations. The DARPA EXtreme ACcuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) program aims to maximize the effectiveness of sniper teams while improving their safety.
Through EXACTO, DARPA is developing a guided round capability in a .50 caliber platform. It is currently intended to provide snipers the capability to engage targets moving at much greater speeds, in tougher environmental conditions such as in high winds and at far longer ranges than currently possible. A guided sniper round would greatly increase accuracy by allowing compensation for environmental effects and target motion while dramatically reducing the engagement timeline.
“Between Iraq and Afghanistan, the need for trained snipers has increased dramatically”, says DARPA program manager Lyndall Beamer. “It’s time we look at how to maximize the utility of these assets and give them the best tools we can.” Along with increased speed and accuracy, EXACTO will improve sniper safety by opening a wide range of viable hide locations for sniper teams. The program aims to achieve all this while maintaining the current two man shooter/observer sniper team and minimizing changes to existing concepts of operations.
The program recently completed its first phase by achieving a successful proof of concept with a high fidelity hardware-in-the-loop (HITL) simulation. Phase II will build and test a complete system, including the required optical sighting equipment and guided .50 caliber projectiles. Although intended for use by snipers, this technology is directly applicable to larger calibers as well as vehicle, ship- and airborne-mounted systems.
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