EXACTO, an acronym of EXtreme ACcuracy Tasked Ordnance, is a sniper rifle being developed for DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) by Lockheed Martin and Teledyne Scientific & Imaging in November 2008.
The new .50 BMG gun and improved scope could employ "fire-and-forget" technologies including "fin-stabilized projectiles, spin-stabilized projectiles, internal and/or external aero-actuation control methods, projectile guidance technologies, tamper proofing, small stable power supplies, and advanced sighting, optical resolution and clarity technologies." Its estimated availability is 2015.
The DARPA EXACTO program is facing competition from Sandia National Laboratories for creating a guided sniper round. On 30 January 2012, Sandia announced that they successfully test-fired a self-guided dart that can hit targets at 2,000 m (2,187 yd). The dart is 4 in (100 mm) long and made to be fired from a small-caliber smoothbore gun. It is kept straight in flight by four electromagnetic actuated fins encased in a plastic puller sabot that fall off when the dart leaves the bore. A laser designator marks a target which is tracked by the dart's optical sensor and CPU. The guided projectile is kept cheap because it does not need an inertial measurement unit. The natural body frequency of the bullet is about 30 hertz, so corrections can be made 30 times per second in flight. Muzzle velocity with commercial gunpowder is 2,400 ft/s (730 m/s) (Mach 2.1), but military customized gunpowder can increase its speed and range. Computer modeling shows a standard bullet would miss a target at 1,000 m (1,094 yd) by 9.8 yd (9 m), while an equivalent guided bullet would hit within 8 in (0.20 m). The DARPA EXACTO program uses different methods than Sandia's guided round. It relies on remote-guidance tied to the optics, which may be more reliable than needing to paint the target with a laser that can be detected, diffused, or blocked. EXACTO models on existing .50 BMG ammunition and rifles instead of needing new hardware.
DARPA test fired the EXACTO in early 2014 and released video of demonstrations in July 2014. Exact technologies used in the bullets were not revealed; Sandia's guided bullet design uses an optical sensor on the nose that gathers flight path information while onboard electronics control tiny fins, while the EXACTO uses a real-time optical guidance system with no visible fins or other steering mechanism on bullet illustrations. Footage released showed the rifle intentionally aiming off target so the bullets could correct their flight path. EXACTO technology is claimed to markedly extend the day and night-time range of current sniper systems.
- Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier features EXACTO ammunition as an unlockable magazine upgrade.
- In Jeremy Robinson's Ragnarok, Knight uses an EXACTO rifle.
- Thompson, Mark (April 15, 2009), "Pirates Beware: Soon Rifles That Kill from a Mile Away.", TIME
- Sandia’s self-guided bullet prototype can hit target a mile away - Sandia news release, 30 January 2012
- Laser-Guided Bullets: Sub-MOA at Over a Mile - Guns.com, 2 February 2012
- The First Self Guided Bullet - Thefirearmblog.com, 31 January 2012
- DARPA Developing Optically-Guided Bullet System (VIDEO) - Guns.com, 26 July 2012
- Lavars, Nick. "DARPA's guided sniper bullet changes path mid-flight" GizMag, 15 July 2014. Accessed: 19 July 2014.
- "EXACTO Demonstrates First-Ever Guided .50-Caliber Bullets" DARPA, 10 July 2014. Accessed: 19 July 2014.
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