Military Review

High-precision shooting complex DARPA EXACTO

37

.50 BMG ammo in magazine for the M107 rifle


Attempts are regularly made to create high-precision rifle complexes based on a guided bullet, but so far none of these developments has been able to go beyond the range. Several years ago, the American agency DARPA developed its own version of such a system. The result of the work was the EXACTO guided bullet, which partially confirmed its capabilities at the shooting range.

Years of development


DARPA's EXACTO (Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance) program was launched in 2008. Lockheed Martin and Teledyne Scientific & Imaging were selected as contractors.

As reported, the goal of EXACTO was to find solutions for creating a high-precision bullet with homing or external control. It was required to determine the optimal guidance option, find ways to stabilize and control the bullet in flight, and also solve all layout issues. A promising bullet should have been made in the dimensions of the existing M33 product for the .50 BMG cartridge (12,7x99 mm) for compatibility with a wide range of small arms weapons.

A lot of time was allotted for the development of EXACTO: the finished bullet was planned to be presented by 2015. In general, the work met this deadline, but was soon stopped. On the official DARPA resources, the EXACTO project is now listed as archived.

High-precision technology


At one time, DARPA published a computer image of a promising guided bullet and some information about its design. In this case, the remaining data, incl. those of greatest interest were not disclosed. Later, videos from test firing were published, which allowed some conclusions to be drawn.

High-precision shooting complex DARPA EXACTO

The only published image of an EXACTO bullet

The EXACTO shooting complex included several main components: a guided bullet in a .50 BMG cartridge, a sniper rifle for this cartridge, as well as fire control tools necessary for precise aiming of weapons and control over the flight of the bullet. Unlike some other projects of this kind, EXACTO provided for the use of serial rifles, which was supposed to simplify further deployment and use.

The exact data on the type of guidance and control methods are still secret. At the same time, there are two main versions in circulation. The first involves the use of a full-fledged optical seeker that receives the reflected signal of the laser illumination. The second offers a simpler solution in the form of a "smart" optoelectronic sight and a bullet with radio command guidance. Published materials and video recordings make the second option more likely.

In this case, it should be considered that DARPA abandoned a full-fledged homing head in favor of remote control, and this greatly simplified and made the bullet cheaper. Thanks to this solution, in the limited volume of the EXACTO bullet, only the power source, the signal receiver, the drives with rudders for control on the trajectory, and the tracer are located.

The complex also includes a new type of optical-electronic sight. It has day and night channels, a laser rangefinder, and is equipped with electronics for processing incoming data and a transmitter for controlling the bullet. During firing, such a sight tracks the bullet along the tracer, calculates its trajectory and issues commands to perform maneuvers to hit the target.


Bullet maneuvers in flight: the tracer demonstrates a sharp change in trajectory

In 2014, in the wake of one of the test events, DARPA reported that a new type of rifle complex in a combat position has the smallest possible dimensions and weight. Thus, the weight of the entire system does not exceed 46 pounds (almost 21 kg). Considering the mass of the current large-caliber rifles, it can be assumed that the "smart" sight for EXACTO weighs no more than 5-6 kg. The available batteries at that time provided work for 14 hours without recharging.

During testing


By the beginning of 2014, the new shooting complex was ready for testing. In the winter of 2014, the prototype was delivered to the test site and tested on targets. Information about the conduct of such tests, as well as a video with the flights of bullets, was published only a few months later.

The published video showed how a guided bullet flies in the direction of the target, and at the end of the trajectory it performs sharp maneuvers and hits the target. Tests have clearly shown that the complex is able to compensate for bullet deflections due to incorrect initial guidance or due to the influence of external factors on the trajectory. Unfortunately, the video did not include specific data on the range and accuracy of fire.

It was reported that in 2014, DARPA and Teledyne continued to refine the complex and were preparing for a new stage of testing. The next shooting took place in February 2015 - materials on them were published only in April. This time, the shooting was carried out at a moving target. Both experienced snipers and shooters with insufficient training were involved in the shooting. In all cases, a reliable target hit was ensured.


Bullet flight with guidance. The calculated trajectory and the point of impact during uncontrolled flight are marked in red, the actual

How exactly this shooting looked like was not specified. Apparently, the shooter was supposed to keep the aiming mark on the target, and the automation provided bullet guidance. Thus, the main and most difficult work was performed by electronics, unloading a person.

Archived project


After April 2015, no new reports of work on EXACTO were published. Known program accomplishments, deadlines, and lack of News became the reason for the emergence of the most interesting versions. In particular, in the foreign media there appeared (and still appear) bold assumptions that the complex was brought to production and operation in the army - but in an atmosphere of secrecy.

However, soon on the official resources of DARPA near the EXACTO program there was a mark “Archived”. For one reason or another, a promising project went to the archive. Work on it has not yet been resumed, although the use of the accumulated experience in new developments cannot be ruled out.

Advantages and disadvantages


The main technical details of EXACTO are still unknown. However, the available data makes it possible to evaluate this project and determine its strengths and weaknesses, as well as find possible reasons for the termination of work.

An obvious advantage of EXACTO, which has been repeatedly confirmed at the shooting range, is the ability to aim a bullet at a target throughout the entire operating range of large-caliber rifles. Combined with the ability to calculate a trajectory from a range of different data, this in theory provides the highest accuracy.


Shooting at a moving target. Red line - calculated trajectory without control, green - actual, provided with guidance

The version of the complex with radio command guidance looks favorably against the background of other similar developments. A bullet with only actuators is simpler and cheaper to create and manufacture than a product with a full-fledged seeker, but due to the "smart" sight it shows at least not the worst characteristics.

The main disadvantage of EXACTO and other systems of this class is the excessive cost. A bullet with special equipment is tens or even hundreds of times more expensive than high-precision sniper cartridges with a “simple” bullet. The high cost drastically limits the use of guided bullets and makes them only an addition to conventional ammunition for specific situations. The same generally applies to the "smart" sight.

The EXACTO product was made in the form factor of a 12,7x99 mm cartridge, but snipers may need ammunition of other calibers and dimensions. The possibility of scaling a guided bullet for cartridges of smaller caliber and power raises fair doubts.

Thus, the result of the EXACTO program was a very interesting and promising high-precision rifle complex. However, its special capabilities and high performance were obtained using not the simplest devices and products, which negatively affected the overall cost. It is very likely that it was precisely because of the unacceptable price that the project was not developed and brought to service. However, this is not surprising. All previous projects of "smart" bullets stopped either because of excessive complexity or because of too high a price. As a result, no army in the world has yet received such ammunition. And the DARPA / Teledyne EXACTO project did not change this situation.
Author:
Photos used:
DARPA, US Department of Defense
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  1. Thrifty
    Thrifty 21 July 2020 18: 29
    0
    Kirill, little information! What is the weight of a cartridge and a bullet, flight speed, approximate range, kinematic effect on body armor, lightly armored vehicles! Are there really no details? And then they were intrigued, and then. .. information vacuum. ...
    1. Hunter 2
      Hunter 2 21 July 2020 18: 52
      11
      Yes, here Generally information is Zero! Article from Murzilka ...
      This is the Dream of any shooter - To take and immediately become a Sniper, why years of training, a "carculator" in your head, train your eyesight ... boo and Like in a computer toy - he killed everyone at once.
      As someone who understands "this" business, I will say one thing - modern technologies cannot even replace the "field" Sniper, Platoon level. Well, about high-class Snipers - in general I am silent. The work of the subconscious, if I am not mistaken, is 30 thousand times faster than the work of the consciousness. There are "percentages" of shooters who can instinctively execute the Cool Shot.
      Currently - You can get High-class shooters only through Free Classes that were given by DOSAAF, when Talented Children did not pay 2 thousand rubles per hour of training and rent a shooting gallery, not taking into account the cost of cartridges.
      1. beeper
        beeper 21 July 2020 22: 01
        +3
        hi I completely agree with you, comrade Okhotovved 2! good
        Everything you said is very true, those in power would be in the ears! yes
        1. Hunter 2
          Hunter 2 22 July 2020 11: 42
          +6
          And you hi Comrade Pischak. I'm trying to open Tire through the administration of my city! Where, as in Soviet times, Children will be able to study. We have a lot of promising shooters in Siberia, at the genetic level. I’m waiting for the end of the quarantine, and I’ll begin to put pressure on ... I even found “sponsors”, there are questions about the Legislation, but ... even such an attempt can attract the eyes of the Authority.
          The best option is the revival of DOSAAF ... but this is definitely not my competence.
          1. beeper
            beeper 22 July 2020 14: 32
            +4
            hi Yes, it is best to teach you to use weapons competently and marksmanship from childhood (under the close supervision of experienced senior comrades!) - this simultaneously forms the qualities of character and useful skills necessary in life!
            Tested on myself, after all, thanks to shooting, I was able (not right away!) To temporarily turn from a sharp "psychotic" choleric into a focused, cold-blooded phlegmatic person and eventually became psycho-emotionally stable, "calm like a boa constrictor" (although an innate quick nervous reaction also helped out -especially in boxing and offhand shooting, and in production, there are also many dangerous situations where you need to act quickly and accurately under stress! smile ).
            All this was in Soviet times, when classes at DOSAAF, all sports clubs, sports schools, art and music schools, school workshops and well-equipped technical circles of the "Palaces of Pioneers" were free (our Soviet Motherland did not spare anything for us Soviet children!) !
            Growing up now, with wild ukrokapitalism, our large family (with only a working mother and a disabled father) would have no money at all for classes there, not to mention free school lunches (for children from low-income families) and free school " prolongation (for all) of the "blessed Brezhnev" times of stagnation!
            These children and youth's lessons in technology and sports gave me the skills of comprehensive work on myself, the ability to win and direction for the rest of my life!
            So a very Useful Business You intend to carry out, sincerely, from the bottom of my heart I wish you Success, Comrade Hunting Expert 2! good
    2. Vlad T
      Vlad T 21 July 2020 19: 10
      +5
      It seems that once again the Americans have swung at a dead-end problem. With such a rifle complex, a high-speed jet weapon under 20-30mm will be more effective. with a speed of 2-4 M. A warhead with explosives with a comulative funnel and so on. The versatility and control is higher with the defeat of more protected targets ...
    3. Sklendarka
      Sklendarka 21 July 2020 21: 49
      +2
      Quote: Thrifty
      Kirill, little information! What is the weight of a cartridge and a bullet, flight speed, approximate range, kinematic effect on body armor, lightly armored vehicles! Are there really no details? And then they were intrigued, and then. .. information vacuum. ...

      Complex at a price equal to the plane ??? Oh well...
  2. Operator
    Operator 21 July 2020 18: 45
    -1
    The EXACTO guidance method is laser illumination when the bullet approaches the target, which unmasks the sniper's position.

    "That's why it doesn't fly" (C)
    1. Vol4ara
      Vol4ara 21 July 2020 19: 47
      +1
      Quote: Operator
      The EXACTO guidance method is laser illumination when the bullet approaches the target, which unmasks the sniper's position.

      "That's why it doesn't fly" (C)

      And if it is not in the optical range?
      1. Operator
        Operator 21 July 2020 21: 07
        0
        For detection of laser radiation in other ranges, there are IR and UV video cameras.
        1. Vol4ara
          Vol4ara 22 July 2020 10: 35
          +2
          Quote: Operator
          For detection of laser radiation in other ranges, there are IR and UV video cameras.

          Hang cameras for every soldier? You can even go further, just make sure that there is always a tank nearby, it works perfectly against snipers
          1. Operator
            Operator 22 July 2020 12: 15
            0
            IR and UV cameras in the dimensions / prices of smartphone cameras are already being used in the military to detect laser rangefinders and illuminators for artillery and aircraft controllers, to illuminate ATGM targets and other laser ammunition.
            1. Vol4ara
              Vol4ara 22 July 2020 14: 19
              +1
              Quote: Operator
              IR and UV cameras in the dimensions / prices of smartphone cameras are already being used in the military to detect laser rangefinders and illuminators for artillery and aircraft controllers, to illuminate ATGM targets and other laser ammunition.

              It's not about the price, but the fact that you won't be looking at the camera all the time. This is not viable, the heads of officers in Syria would fly off if the system was brought to mind
              1. Operator
                Operator 22 July 2020 18: 03
                0
                And what, the visual observation of the battlefield in the Charter has already been canceled? laughing

                The camera is positioned above the parapet on a holder and connected with a wire to the tactical tablet - the heads remain intact.
                1. Vol4ara
                  Vol4ara 22 July 2020 23: 57
                  0
                  Quote: Operator
                  And what, the visual observation of the battlefield in the Charter has already been canceled? laughing

                  The camera is positioned above the parapet on a holder and connected with a wire to the tactical tablet - the heads remain intact.

                  And flies into the camera, carry the next one
                  1. Operator
                    Operator 23 July 2020 10: 54
                    0
                    Unlike active laser radiation, a small passive camera (1x1 cm) cannot be detected.
                    1. Vol4ara
                      Vol4ara 23 July 2020 11: 04
                      0
                      Quote: Operator
                      Unlike active laser radiation, a small passive camera (1x1 cm) cannot be detected.

                      I don’t think everything will be that simple anyway. There are complexes that detect optics, automatically warn you. Nevertheless, it doesn't really bother snipers.
                      1. Operator
                        Operator 23 July 2020 11: 07
                        0
                        Passive optics - we are talking about it, with the difference that the area of ​​the optical sight lens is an order of magnitude larger than that of a smartphone-class video camera lens.

                        Plus, the optics search complex is an active laser emitter, which will first of all arrive on the front line before it detects anything.

                        Laser systems for the search for optics are mainly used by law enforcement agencies when protecting VIPs from snipers.
                      2. Vol4ara
                        Vol4ara 23 July 2020 11: 14
                        0
                        Quote: Operator
                        Passive optics - we are talking about it, with the difference that the area of ​​the optical sight lens is an order of magnitude larger than that of a smartphone-class video camera lens.

                        So there is a conversation about this, there is a complex, but the snipers have not disappeared anywhere, how they worked and still work, although it would seem that this complex should have reset everyone who uses optics. Again, Chinese laser pointers are not much more expensive than Chinese IR and UV cameras. You can overload the scene with interference from other emitters, and no one will notice one additional source
                      3. Operator
                        Operator 23 July 2020 12: 38
                        0
                        To detect 1x1 cm optics at a distance of hundreds of meters, you need to have a powerful laser, not Chinese pointers. The difference in the cost of a laser and a smartphone-class video camera is at least two orders of magnitude.

                        Plus, the illumination from the pointers will interfere with the main laser in detecting optics. Glass shards from bottles scattered along the front line will make the reflections from them and from the optics of video cameras generally indistinguishable.

                        Active reconnaissance assets lose to passive ones in all respects.
                      4. Vol4ara
                        Vol4ara 23 July 2020 13: 10
                        -1
                        Quote: Operator
                        To detect 1x1 cm optics at a distance of hundreds of meters, you need to have a powerful laser, not Chinese pointers. The difference in the cost of a laser and a smartphone-class video camera is at least two orders of magnitude.

                        Plus, the illumination from the pointers will interfere with the main laser in detecting optics. Glass shards from bottles scattered along the front line will make the reflections from them and from the optics of video cameras generally indistinguishable.

                        Active reconnaissance assets lose to passive ones in all respects.

                        What does this have to do with it? We need to shoot a guided bullet with a laser beam correction. The enemy has a means of observation - a camera that sees IR and UV spectra. So that they don't get bored there, the scene is flooded with a mass of laser beams from cheap pointers in the UV and IR spectrum, and so on for many days. And then a sniper comes to work and makes a shot, no one will notice 1 new laser beam. And to deal with the optics detection station, as you rightly noted, scattered glass may be suitable
                      5. Operator
                        Operator 23 July 2020 14: 34
                        0
                        And how will the bullet seeker determine which laser beam it should target? laughing
                      6. Vol4ara
                        Vol4ara 23 July 2020 15: 58
                        0
                        Quote: Operator
                        And how will the bullet seeker determine which laser beam it should target? laughing

                        Ask engineers and physicists how they do it. The fact is that if the aiming head is tuned to a wavelength of 815nm for example, then it will only react to it.
                      7. Operator
                        Operator 23 July 2020 16: 52
                        0
                        Then the video cameras will be configured in this way.
                      8. Vol4ara
                        Vol4ara 23 July 2020 17: 29
                        0
                        Quote: Operator
                        Then the video cameras will be configured in this way.

                        How to tune?
                      9. Operator
                        Operator 23 July 2020 17: 39
                        0
                        At a specific frequency of laser radiation.
                      10. Vol4ara
                        Vol4ara 23 July 2020 18: 08
                        0
                        Quote: Operator
                        At a specific frequency of laser radiation.

                        And they will see a certain frequency of laser radiation when the shooter uses a different one. In this case, even pointers are not needed.
                      11. Operator
                        Operator 23 July 2020 18: 36
                        0
                        The shooter can use any frequency, only the homing bullets are tuned to a very specific frequency, which cannot be readjusted - unlike video cameras, which can be tuned to any frequency of laser radiation.

                        And what does it have to do with Chinese pointers, which fundamentally work in the visually visible part of the spectrum - otherwise they would not be pointers laughing
                      12. Vol4ara
                        Vol4ara 23 July 2020 19: 14
                        0
                        Quote: Operator
                        The shooter can use any frequency, only the homing bullets are tuned to a very specific frequency, which cannot be readjusted - unlike video cameras, which can be tuned to any frequency of laser radiation.

                        And what does it have to do with Chinese pointers, which fundamentally work in the visually visible part of the spectrum - otherwise they would not be pointers laughing

                        That there is a matrix in the camera, that in the seeker, what wavelength you set it to, it will be seen, projectiles from hand grenade launchers while flying in the barrel are programmed for the burst time, adjusting the head is even easier, technically there is no problem. Rather, it is not a fact that these matrices can be reconfigured at all, but there is a close relationship with the camera, if you cannot reconfigure the head matrices, then the camera matrices cannot
                        Pointers because it's easier to explain, the main thing. that the meaning is clear
  • agoran
    agoran 21 July 2020 19: 58
    +1
    Not a sniper. So, don't kick.
    On Discovery I looked about the shooting complex.
    A target is selected, the complex calculates all the parameters, and the shot is fired by automatic equipment, not the shooter.
  • Lipchanin
    Lipchanin 21 July 2020 21: 27
    +2
    A bullet with special equipment is tens or even hundreds of times more expensive than high-precision sniper cartridges with a “simple” bullet. The high cost drastically limits the use of guided bullets and makes them only an addition to conventional ammunition for specific situations. The same generally applies to the "smart" sight.

    Well, okay. Bullet for VIPs.
    They will boast in the next world that they were not shot with a simple bullet.
    I think the game is not worth the candle request
  • beeper
    beeper 21 July 2020 22: 25
    +2
    In such a caliber, with the current level of development of microtechnology and microelectronics, it is already quite possible to create a fairly budgetary (of course, in the version with bullets produced in large enough batches without an individual seeker smile ) portable automated shooting complex! IMHO

    Although this will require a non-trivial approach to ways of correcting the trajectory of the bullet (taking into account the gyroscopic effect of its frenzied rotation with a hypernumber of revolutions per second) and the reliability of the design of the actuators arranged in such a small volume. winked
    But, without a doubt, such a promising "game" - a high-precision shooting drone, is worth the "dressing" - for the sake of preserving the lives of its servicemen and the high probability of hitting especially important targets (both stationary and moving) even at extreme firing distances! yes
  • KSVK
    KSVK 21 July 2020 22: 48
    +3
    Quote: agoran
    Not a sniper. So, don't kick.
    On Discovery I looked about the shooting complex.
    A target is selected, the complex calculates all the parameters, and the shot is fired by automatic equipment, not the shooter.

    Not so simple. Ballistics is easy to calculate. It is possible to prepare ammunition and make a good rifle, but it is VERY difficult to take into account the effect of the wind ON THE WHOLE trajectory of the bullet. None of the automatics will take into account that there is one wind at a height of 2 meters, and at the highest point of the flight path is completely different.
    And according to the article, the players realized that the game was not worth the candle. The destruction of one militant at a distance of a couple of kilometers ... there are ATGMs and mortars. The hostage rescue police officers ... there are usually different distances. In general, IMHO a meaningless device. That's why they refused.
  • Pandiurin
    Pandiurin 21 July 2020 23: 59
    +1
    Quote: Lipchanin
    A bullet with special equipment is tens or even hundreds of times more expensive than high-precision sniper cartridges with a “simple” bullet. The high cost drastically limits the use of guided bullets and makes them only an addition to conventional ammunition for specific situations. The same generally applies to the "smart" sight.

    Well, okay. Bullet for VIPs.
    They will boast in the next world that they were not shot with a simple bullet.
    I think the game is not worth the candle request


    Such technical solutions were not possible 10 years ago. Quite expensive now. With a sufficient mass batch, there will be an acceptable price.
    I saw a video from Syria, the destruction of a group of Barmaley retreating on foot with an ATGM. Probably there were snipers, they did not regret the ATGM shot on them.
  • sen
    sen 22 July 2020 07: 11
    +4
    It is easier and more efficient to use the Raytheon Pike small guided missile
    https://topwar.ru/117526-malogabaritnaya-upravlyaemaya-raketa-raytheon-pike-ssha.html
  • Operator
    Operator 23 July 2020 20: 40
    0
    Quote: Vol4ara
    if it is impossible to reconfigure the head matrices, then the camera matrices cannot

    Exactly the opposite.
  • kot-begemot
    kot-begemot 25 July 2020 02: 55
    -1
    The most accurate guided bullet is a knife or bayonet. Everything else is piece, rare and very delicate. Fog, smoke, a dead battery or a grain of sand on the optics can interfere (and will certainly prevent) an accurate hit. Yes, and the moment-weapon of the "battlefield" in 21 kg? And if not for the battlefield, as with stealth and the second shot, wait for the first bullet to hit while holding the optics?