Smart bombs were a game-changer for militaries. Smart bullets may be subsequent.

Share to friends
Listen to this article
TOW missile system
A US soldier scans the Narang Valley in Afghanistan’s Konar province with an BGM-71 TOW missile on May 9, 2009.

  • Guided munitions are game-changers that made the US army far more efficient and deadly.
  • “Smart bullets” with comparable capabilities may be the subsequent precision weapons to be fielded.
  • Smart bullets aren’t new, however they’re nonetheless early in improvement, and so they have some drawbacks.

Smartphones, smartwatches, sensible scopes, however what about sensible bullets? If DARPA, aka the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has its method, sensible bullets will change into a very actual factor.

DARPA manages and oversees a number of initiatives that purpose to extend the effectivity of the United States army via know-how. They work with universities and personal corporations to provide some really high-tech initiatives.

Smart bullets have been on the menu since 2014. The thought behind guided munitions is not new.

Guided munitions are game-changers that made the army a far more efficient and deadly preventing power. Even your common grunt has entry to guided anti-armor belongings via TOW and Javelin missiles. However, shrinking guided munitions all the way down to bullet measurement presents fairly a problem. There is not a lot room to work, however that does not imply the chance is not obvious.

Before we dive into that, why would somebody even need sensible bullets to start with?

Benefits of sensible bullets

Army sniper rifle Squad Designated Marksman Rifle
US troopers with the US Army’s new M110A1 Squad Designated Marksman Rifle at Fort Stewart in Georgia in June 2020.

The most blatant reply is accuracy. A guided sensible projectile permits every spherical to be extra correct. The extra correct a weapon is, the extra deadly it may well be.

Beyond offensive combative measures, guided sensible bullets can be used to defeat future threats from swarming UAVs to incoming missiles. We already use weapons just like the 20mm Phalanx CIWS, for instance, to defend ships from missiles.

There can be a security facet to using sensible bullets. Yep, I mentioned it, security. During the 20 years of the GWOT, warfare occurred near or within the midst of the civilian inhabitants. Troops discovered themselves in conditions the place their deadliest weapons could not be used as a result of potential civilian casualties.

If you’ve gotten a truck filled with unhealthy guys, a LAW or AT4 makes brief work of them; nevertheless, the prospect of civilian casualties means these weapons usually cannot be used.

US Marine with 50-caliber machine gun bullets
A US Marine masses an M2 .50-caliber machine gun throughout coaching in Jordan in March 2021.

Guided, non-explosive projectiles can eradicate the menace with out substantial threat to civilians.

Additionally, projectiles from .50-caliber weapons can journey fairly a methods and nonetheless keep sufficient power to kill. Being in a position to information these massive bullets will restrict the potential for pleasant fireplace and civilian incidents.

The downsides are apparent: The greatest is worth. The prices of those rounds have not been revealed, however it’s unlikely to be low cost. These will be munitions designed for specialised duties and never common subject gadgets, no less than not for a while.

Second, cartridges are somewhat small. It’s robust to suit the tech mandatory into your common infantry rifle caliber, so the guided munitions will be restricted to massive, highly effective platforms like anti-material rifles.

Smart bullets at present accessible

As of this writing, sensible bullets aren’t being deployed. They are nonetheless within the comparatively early phases of life, however we have seen three emerge that present nice promise. We’d see two conventional bullets in rifles, and the third is designed for ship deck weapons.


Marine 50 caliber sniper rifle Barrett M107
A US Marine fires a Barrett M107 .50-caliber sniper rifle in Spain in December 2018.

EXACTO stands for Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance. DARPA labored to develop these cartridges, and video proof has proven the cartridges work. These are 50-caliber projectiles fired from the Army’s customary Barrett M107 rifle. DARPA retains a tight lid on the tech and capabilities, as you’d think about.

We know that the EXACTO sensible bullets will make the most of a full system to perform. This included a high-tech scope that offered the data wanted to direct the projectile. The movies DARPA has launched have proven the rounds hitting shifting targets with ease.

Sure, it’d be simple to choose off enemy troopers with this tech, however I can see its utility past that. EOD can use the rounds to disable explosives, snipers can simply disable thin-skinned autos, and in the event you transfer it to a machine gun, you possibly can lay down devastating suppressive fires.

Sandia National Labs Guided Bullet

Sandia National Labs started its personal manufacturing of a self-guided 50-caliber spherical. However, this appears to be not solely a distinctive spherical however a distinctive rifle too. The self-guided projectile makes use of a laser designator. The laser tells the projectile the place to go, and this enables the person to divert the spherical or monitor a shifting goal.

The rifle has a easy bore, and the bullet will be geared up with an optical sensor and a counterbalancing mass together with stabilizing strakes. Interestingly sufficient, in line with Sandia National Labs, the flight assessments can be performed with business off-the-shelf elements. The draw back may be the laser’s efficient vary, however that continues to be to be seen.

It may be fascinating, particularly if the laser and shooter may be separate. An infantryman with eyes on the goal may designate it for a sniper to take out through laser. Also, may one laser information a number of projectiles? It’s fascinating and may be a more cost effective infantry possibility.


Mark 110 57 mm gun USS Coronado LCS
US Navy littoral fight ship USS Coronado fires its Mark 110 57mm gun.

This system is not your conventional “smart bullet” if such a factor exists.

MAD-FIRES stands for Multi-Azimuth Defense Fast Intercept Round Engagement System and it is designed for 57 mm deck weapons. These deck weapons maintain 1,000 rounds of ammo and may fireplace 200 rounds per minute.

This provides sensible bullets that may goal, monitor, and have interaction a number of targets, even when they’re shifting. Imagine a swarm of drones attacking a ship, for occasion. The MAD-FIRES system may decisively minimize them down.

This system makes use of the deck gun’s massive capability and price of fireside. It’s smaller and extra environment friendly than a missile, and 57mms is a honest quantity of room to suit among the extra spectacular tech.

Staying sensible

US Coast Guard M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper Rifle sniper marksman
A US Coast Guard maritime enforcement specialist with an M110 semiautomatic sniper rifle in July 2018.

Smart bullets are simply one among many initiatives DARPA is engaged with. I think about they’ve jet packs and lightsabers again there too. Well, hopefully.

Regardless, sensible bullets may present a new surgical possibility for snipers, soldiers, and naval personnel. I’m excited to see the place the challenge will go and the way our troops can profit from it.

Read the unique article on Business Insider

Go to Source