AGM-114 R9X, Hellfire missile modified for CIA kills avoiding collateral damages

The CIA and the U.S. Army have been using a new type of missile for some drone strikes in recent years, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal and echoed by several newspapers and web sites. The AGM-114 R9X, or "flying Ginsu," doesn’t explode but instead deploys six sharp blades, hitting and shredding targets without harming people and material nearby.

AGM 114 R9X
AGM-114 R9X, a Hellfire modification deploying six sharp blades before impact (Picture source: Charles Lister’s Twitter account)

As Jared Keller reports on Task & Purpose, the new missile, which has never been acknowledged publicly before this month of May, is called the AGM-114 R9X and is a variant of the standard Hellfire missile. But unlike a traditional Hellfire, the R9X is designed with six long blades that emerge from the missile only seconds before impact. The R9X, nicknamed the “flying Ginsu” by insiders, doesn’t contain an explosive warhead. The goal, according to anonymous U.S. officials speaking with the Wall Street Journal, is to reduce unnecessary casualties and hopefully only kill the person who was targeted in the first place.

War reporters have been speculating that the U.S. military had a new kind of weapon since at least February 2017, when photos emerged following the death of Al Qaeda’s Abu Khayr al Masri in Syria. The terrorist, an Egyptian national, had been traveling in a Kia sedan that was surprisingly intact after the CIA drone strike, given the fact that it had just been hit with a missile. The roof and the interior of the Kia were destroyed, and as journalist Tyler Rogoway reported at the time, the car “literally has a hole punched through its roof with no real sign of a large explosion". Another terrorist, Jamal al-Badawi, may have been targeted in Yemen using the new missile when he was killed in January of 2019. Al-Badawi helped orchestrate the attack of the USS Cole in 2000, that killed 17 sailors and wounded at least 40.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the R9X was developed under President Barack Obama in an effort to reduce civilian deaths and has been in development since at least 2011. The R9X is believed to have been used half a dozen times around the world, according to the Wall Street Journal’s report, including in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Somalia. But this can’t be independently verified, of course.

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