The Defense Department's top researchers are working actively to put homing bullets, previously the stuff of sci-fi, into the hands of the country's soldiers, reports the Marine Corps Times.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has been working for years to create small-caliber bullets with the same "smart" capabilities possessed by heavier bombs and missiles. Their new Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordinance, or EXACTO, is just that. It is able to change directions multiple times midflight in order to hit a target that a regular bullet would miss.

The first prototypes were tested in 2012, and last July DARPA released footage of the bullets being tested with a .50 caliber rifle, the kind used by military snipers. Now that small-scale tests have been successful, the Defense Department is working to have these smart bullets make the leap from the laboratory to the battlefield, moving forward with "systems-level" tests that seek to determine how the bullets can be used on a large scale with the rifles carried by U.S. infantry.

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Ryan Innes, a former Marine Corps sniper, told the Marine Corps Times that the new bullets represent a huge breakthrough.

"This is an amazing advancement in sniper technology and it will save countless American lives on the battlefield," he said. "It will turn any Marine into a precision shooter at extreme distances."

Not only will soldiers be better shots, but it could also change military tactics. Innes noted that smart bullets raise the possibility that a rifle could be operated robotically in conjunction with a spotter set up elsewhere, allowing soldiers to rain death on enemies without giving away their positions.

Innes warned, however, that advancements shouldn't allow soldiers to become complacent.

"Technology can fail at any given moment and shooters need to adapt to this and respond accordingly."

While progress is being made, however, it is unclear how long it will be before EXACTO is in the hands of the average soldier, as DARPA has avoided disclosing too much information on the project.

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