The futuristic munitions come as part of the US Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) Hyper Velocity Projectile program, which was announced on July 19. The agency's researchers hope to develop equipment that would allow high-velocity weapons to accurately strike far-away targets – without having to depend on rocket propulsion, Military and Aerospace Electronics reports.
The Navy hopes the supersonic ammunition, with a potential “in-flight retargeting” capability, will be compatible with both its conventional guns, like the Mk 45 155-millimeter gun systems, as well as its experimental 20–32MJ railgun systems, which fire projectiles using electrical energy instead of chemical propellants.
The bullets are slated to be two feet long, weigh somewhere between 20 and 30 pounds, and have a range of 30 to even 200 miles depending on the system deploying them.
In order to bring this project to life, the Navy “will explore technologies related to extended-range guided projectiles for Naval Surface Fire Support and exploit recent advances in miniaturized electronics, guided projectiles and mortars, and warhead technology for small UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] launched munitions.”