Author’s note: I’ve been hired to write marketing material for software company Ubisoft to help promote their new game Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. My dispatches explore the real-world roots of the game’s weapons and technology.
Snipers are an infantry soldier’s worst nightmare. They can strike with no warning, often when you least expect it, almost always firing at long range and from concealment. The only thing that protects the average grunt from the sniper’s killing prowess is the sheer difficulty in hitting a man-sized target at extreme ranges with a tiny projectile. Sniping is deadly, but luckily for a shooter’s targets, it’s also really hard.
But that could change. New, guided “smart” bullets, in development for nearly 15 years, are primed to make the long-range, single-shot kill a routine affair for US military snipers. Smart rifle rounds are an important part of the player’s arsenal in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier™. In the game, as in real life, there’s no running or hiding when a bullet can follow you. “Once the target has been acquired and is visible, [guided] rounds will always hit their mark,” says Tray Epperly, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier’s weapons designer.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), has been working on maneuverable bullets since the late 1990s. The military has possessed modern guided bombs and missiles since the 1970s, but it took another 20 years for computers and sensors to get small enough to fit inside a bullet.