Article Entry

14 Apr 2009


Laser-Guided Bullets From DARPA; Not That The Navy Seals Needed Them

Added by Category: Daily Intelligence Brief, General

The story of the Navy Seal snipers easily picking off those pirates on Easter Sunday, leading to the heroic rescue of Captain Richard Phillips, is the stuff that makes great movies. The raw talent of the Navy Seals snipers is absolutely astounding. What would make their skills even more astounding are the new laser-guided bullets that are capable of changing course in mid-air.

Called EXACTO (EXtreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance), these $22 million smart bullets tech can sense air currents and moving targets. As such, it actually adjusts its flight so it can stay exactly on course. Here’s the solicitation from DARPA. As a got geoint? reader pointed out to us last week in our story about DARPA creating technologies for seeing through concrete walls, it is innovators from the industry side who are providing these amazing defense technologies.

Oh, and on a separate note, the pirates off of Somalia are unwavering in their actions. This story just broke about how they just hijacked a 35,000-ton Greek-owned bulk carrier. Unbelievable.

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  1. Bill_Fogarty wrote: 14 April 2009

    EXACTO sounds like another welfare program for some defense contractor, if you ask me. Much better to spend that $22 million on training and adding Marine snipers and Navy Seals to the task forces and MEBs.
    This EXACTO bullet, probably a thousand a bullet is a waste of money – just like the ‘Copperhead’ round developed for the Artillery.

  2. Paul wrote: 14 April 2009

    Hopefully the Greek navy will do as well! I understand that the pirates have hijacked (shipjacked?) several more today.

  3. Lloyd Rakosnik wrote: 15 April 2009

    The last contact I had with a Seal dealt with him pulling apart a set of night vision goggles and reconfiguring them -lots of work in this area- so that he could use the infared vision elements to scan badly wounded soldiers. The device was used to locate those veins and arteries that had not collapsed due to blood loss. Life saving IVs could then be started with the absolute minimum if time loss. There is no telling what application will come out of a new development. Intelligence and creativity of the users are your limits. Smart bullets? At least we get this. By posing the problem and then by solving it – bringing a workable product to the field- the ancillary knowledge gained in solving the problem will stand us in good stead and lead to a myriad of other products and solutions. 22 Million bucks? Lots of money. I’d like to see the use of such a product at the 111 MOS level. If I recall correctly in WWII it took 12,000 rounds to kill one German or Japanese. Korea saw the level go to about 14,000 for a kill and Vietnam topped out at about 16,000 for a kill. If we can get it down to anywhere close to ‘one shot one kill’ I’m all for it.

  4. CVK wrote: 16 April 2009

    Wasn’t this the plot of a bad movie starring Gene Simmons (of KISS fame)?


  5. Rolf M. wrote: 18 April 2009

    Just a thought; laser guided implies some sorry bloke that have to light it up with a laser, like a torchlight. I don’t want to be that guy.

    Still, DARPA is a great idea.

    Rolf M.

  6. Winston Rockwell wrote: 18 April 2009

    that “raw talent” is far more the result of very rigorous training than any native ability. i’ve known snipers, and while they are usually people who are comfortable with guns before they enlisted, and all have excellent eyesight, the rest is the result of a training regimen that teaches them to perform what most would consider minor miracles of marksmanship at absurd ranges.

    the terrible shot-to-kill ratio in Vietnam was mainly the result of the proliferation and abuse of automatic weapons. when soldiers point an M-16 at a suspected enemy position and empty the magazine, it’s incredibly wasteful and inefficient. poor fire discipline is the reason the Marines, and later many Army units, adopted 3-round burst limiters on their weapons. as a rule, aimed semi-automatic fire is vastly more effective than full-auto, except in a suppression role.

    as for laser-guided bullets… DARPA has been working on small/medium caliber projectile guidance for years. so far, it’s only proven practical in calibers of 20mm or greater. in practice, use of mid-course correction technology for small arms would only be applicable to very specialized weapons, and only in very, very limited circumstances. as such, it is probably not worth the cost.

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