The US military has moved a step closer to developing a smart bullet that will result in a direct hit almost every time the trigger is pulled.
The US Department of Defence's research agency DARPA reported this week that it had carried out successful live-fire tests of the guided 0.50-calibre ordance.
The bullet that never misses?
Video shows testing of the first ever guided small-calibre projectiles. Vision: US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
The bullets, which are being developed under the Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) program, can adjust their trajectory after being fired.
EXACTO is designed to assist snipers in "acquiring moving targets in unfavourable conditions, such as high winds and dusty terrain commonly found in Afghanistan".
The program "combines a manoeuvrable bullet and a real-time guidance system to track and deliver the projectile to the target, allowing the bullet to change path during flight to compensate for any unexpected factors that may drive it off course".
DARPA is not the only organisation to experiment with self-guided bullets. Sandia Labs has developed a 10-cm-long prototype which can hit a target more than 2km away, with assistance from an built-in optical sensor and steerable fins.
“The EXACTO would be revolutionary,” then-US Army Captain Keith Bell and former sniper school commander told TIME five years ago when research began, saying he couldn’t wait to get his hands on the new bullet.
“It will more than double our range and probably more than double our accuracy,” he said.
The current record for the longest ever sniper kill is 2474m, according to the Guiness Book of Records.
It was shot by Corporal of Horse Craig Harrison in 2009 and the bullet reportedly took 3 seconds to reach its target.