Saturday, June 6, 2009

Smart bullets to make snipers even more lethal

Smart bullets to make snipers even more lethal

Those three Navy SEAL snipers who ended the hostage crisis on the high seas yesterday are amazing. Picking off two pirates who briefly poked their heads out of a small covered lifeboat, and simultaneously shooting a third pirate through the boat's tiny window? At dusk using night vision? From a heaving, tilting and rolling ship, aiming at pirates who were also on a bobbing boat? Seems impossible.

Even more remarkable feats will be possible when they get their new laser-guided bullets, capable of changing course in mid-air. Called EXACTO (EXtreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance), the $22 million smart bullet tech senses air currents and moving targets, adjusting a bullet's flight so it can stay exactly on course. Darpa, inventors of GPS and lots more, says this gee-whiz technology will "provide a dramatic new capability to the U.S. military."

Not cool enough? The Darpa researchers are also working on smart bullets guided by frickin' lasers and aimed by scopes that use heat haze to amplify vision from distances of over a mile away. That makes the snipers completely invisible to their targets — they'll never know what hit them. Just don't point that thing at me, seaman.

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