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Posted : 2012-11-21 18:20
Updated : 2012-11-21 18:20

US military seeks to develop 'silent bullets'

Commandos attack during an exercise at Fort Bragg in April 2012.

Most bullets make small sonic booms when flying through the air, which to our ears sound like a loud, distinct "crack!" For the Pentagon's special forces, that makes it hard to be sneaky about what they're shooting. Now the commandos want to be sneakier with slower, quieter bullets, U.S. information telecommunication magazine Wired reported Tuesday.

According to the magazine, the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) under the U.S. Department of Defense plans to develop rifles in the 5.56, 7.62 and.338 calibers, which will travel at low enough velocities to avoid breaking the sound barrier, thus creating no "crack" noise.

In the solicitations, the special forces said the bullet aims to "provide superior covert and stealth capabilities" for not only the military,but police forces and the Department of Homeland Security.

Commandos have used subsonic bullets since World War II, though these are mainly effective in smaller guns like the .22 and 9 mm caliber pistols.

Breaking the sound barrier also pretty much negates the use of a sound suppressor, or "silencer," which the special forces would likely want to use against militants in Afghanistan and around the world, the magazine said.

One solution could be using "polymer cased ammunition" as opposed to brass or steel. Polymer-cased bullets "produce a reliable and consistent powder burn." More specifically, polymer obturates at lower pressures, which means it may be possible to shoot a heavy bullet with less propellant while theoretically not trading for accuracy and range.

According to the solicitation, subsonic bullets "experience significant accuracy problems due to excessive deviations in velocity." The gunpowder (or propellant charge) for a subsonic bullet has to be used in smaller quantities than for a normal bullet, and the bullet itself has to be heavier. This results in bullet that is far and away less accurate, doesn't go nearly as far, and "creates lower pressures which ... makes it hard to get a clean burn of the propellant causing rapid fouling of the weapon."



관련 한글 기사

미군, '소리없는 총알' 개발 추진

미국 국방부가 소리가 거의 나지 않는 '조용한 총알' 개발을 추진 중이라고 미 정보기술(IT) 잡지 와이어드가 20일(현지시간) 보도했다.

이 잡지에 따르면 국방부 산하 특수전사령부(SOCOM)는 최근 군수업체에 보낸 요청서를 통해 5.56 구경과 7.62 구경, .338 구경 소총을 위해 속도가 음속 이하인 총알을 개발한다고 밝혔다.

이 총알은 군은 물론 국토안보부 산하 경찰에 '우월한 은밀성과 스텔스 능력을 제공하기 위한' 것이라고 SOCOM은 요청서에서 설명했다.

일반적인 총기의 총알은 소리보다 빨라서 움직이는 물체 속도가 음속을 돌파할 때 일어나는 폭음(소닉 붐)을 일으킨다.

작전의 은밀성이 생명인 특수부대는 통상 총성을 줄이려 총기에 소음기를 장착하나 이런 폭음 때문에 효과가 떨어진다.

따라서 각국 특수부대들은 2차 세계대전 이후 음속 이하 총알을 사용해왔으나 이는 .22 구경 및 9m 구경 권총 등 주로 소형 총기에서만 효과가 있다.

음속 이하 총알은 일반 총알보다 크기는 크면서 화약 양은 적어 정확도가 훨씬 떨어지고 사정거리도 줄어드는 문제가 있기 때문이다.
미군은 이러한 문제를 해결하기 위해 기존 총알처럼 탄피를 황동이나 강철이 아니라 고분자(폴리머) 화합물로 만드는 방안 등을 검토하고 있다고 이 잡지는 전했다. (연합뉴스)



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