- The Washington Times - Monday, December 15, 2014

The Defense Department has been testing a type of .50 caliber bullet that can change direction, midflight.

The bullets are being tested under the EXACTO program, or the Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance, and developed by Teledyne Scientific & Imaging LLC in California, Stars and Stripes reported.

“The objective of the EXACTO program is to revolutionize rifle accuracy and range by developing the first ever guided small-caliber bullet,” DARPA officials said in a statement on a YouTube video of the development. “The EXACTO .50 caliber round and optical sighting technology expects to greatly extend the day and nighttime range over current state-of-the-art sniper systems.”

The ammunition is capable of changing direction mid-air — but the hows and whys of that capability are closely guarded secrets.

DARPA announced two rounds of successful testing of the bullet, first in February and then again in April. In the tests, the bullet was purposely fired off-target — and then changed path. In the second test, the fired bullet seems like it changed path and ultimately hit the intended target, Stars and Stripes reported.

DARPA is hoping snipers especially can find the bullets useful in windy and dusty terrain, such as in Afghanistan.

Weapons experts cheered the creation of the bullet, but said the successful testing phases don’t necessarily prove the technology is battle-ready.

“You still need to train these snipers in the traditional methods,” said Ted Gatchel, professor emeritus at the Naval War College, in the Stars and Stripes report. “Right now, sniping is a real precise art.”

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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