Interrogator: How many of your soldiers were killed by the air war?
Iraqi Officer: To be honest, for the amount of ordnance that was dropped, not very many. Only one soldier was killed and two were wounded. The soldier that was killed did not die as a result of a direct hit, but because the vibrations of the bomb caused a bunker to cave in on top of him.
Interrogator: So, then you feel the aerial bombardment was ineffective?
Iraqi Officer: Oh no! Just the opposite! It was extremely effective! The planes hit only vehicles and equipment. Even my personal vehicle, a ‘Waz’ was hit. They hit everything! [emphasis in original text]33
The second is from an Iraqi general reflecting morosely on the war:
During the Iran war, my tank was my friend because I could sleep in it and know I was safe ... During this war my tank became my enemy ... none of my troops would get near a tank at night because they just kept blowing up.34
Leaving nuclear weapons out of it, the great development in weapons since WW II has been the evolution of PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions).
In WW II, despite the introduction of the Norden bomb sight and other technologies, it wasn’t uncommon for bombers to miss—literally by miles—whereas today a bomber is well over 90 percent certain of hitting a target with a single bomb—even if dropped from over 20,000 feet, at night, under adverse weather conditions.
In terms of sheer military effectiveness, the evolution of PGMs has been nothing short of remarkable. Add in the extraordinary degree to which electronics have been developed and miniaturized, and it was—I suppose—entirely inevitable that the PGB (Precision Guided Bullet) would eventually appear. It now has—and it works.
The following is what DARPA says on the matter.
With an ability to strike from great distances, snipers present a unique threat in the field of battle. This long-range lethality is not without its complications, however, with accuracy often dictated by wind, rain and dust, not to mention targets that are constantly on the move. Over the last few months, DARPA has been conducting live-fire tests of guided .50 caliber bullets and today unveiled footage demonstrating the project's success.
With the aim of improving accuracy and safety for military snipers, DARPA's Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) project is tasked with developing more accurate artillery that will enable greater firing range, minimize the time required to engage with targets and also help to reduce missed shots that can give away a troop's location.
The EXACTO 50-caliber round is claimed to be the first ever guided small-caliber bullet. The maneuverable projectile uses a real-time optical guidance system to change its path mid-flight and home in on a target, potentially overcoming adverse weather and hostile conditions to improve sniper accuracy.
DARPA isn't giving too much away in terms of technical detail. However, if the illustration above is any indication, the steering mechanism used by DARPA appears different to the method used by a team at the Sandia National Laboratories back in 2012.
In that case, researchers developed a small-caliber guided bullet prototype capable of steering toward a laser-marked target 2 km (1.2 mi) away. This was accomplished by way of an optical sensor on the bullet's nose that gathers flight path information, while onboard electronics controlled tiny fins on its side to direct it toward the target. No such fins can be seen on the EXACTO round.
The DARPA footage, which can be seen below, demonstrates two rounds of live-fire testing. With the rifle intentionally aimed to the right of the marked target, the bullet can be seen veering in trajectory, altering its path to strike accurately over an undisclosed distance. DARPA claims the technology is likely to markedly extend the day and night-time range of current sniper systems.
Following the successful demonstration of the round's guidance systems and sensor, DARPA will now work to refine the technology to improve performance and conduct system-level live fire testing.