Hellfire blade missile infographic
Graphic shows the Hellfire R9X “blade” missile.
GN43065AR

MILITARY

The missile that killed Zawahiri

By Duncan Mil

August 4, 2022 - Missiles that killed Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri – while he stood on a balcony in the Afghan capital Kabul – caused minor collateral damage, suggesting they were Hellfire R9X variants.

The CIA used a missile shrouded in secrecy to kill Al-Qaeda’s leader, produced explicitly to kill individuals. The missile’s development, which reportedly began under former U.S. President Barack Obama, was aimed to avoid civilian casualties during U.S. campaigns in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Yemen.

The AGM-114 R9X -- known as the Hellfire R9X -- is a modified version of the well-known Hellfire air-to-ground, anti-armour missile, but without an explosive warhead. Itmissile can plunge through the tops of vehicles or buildings to kill targets without harming others.

Just before impact, six sharp blades shoot out from the sides of the spinning missile, hitting and shredding its unfortunate target like a huge razor.

Nicknamed a targeted “knife bomb,” the “ninja” bomb or the “flying Ginsu,” the R9X has only been used a dozen times in the past four years. Many of these took place in Syria, and now the R9X missile has been used in Afghanistan.

Sources
PUBLISHED: 04/08/2022; STORY: Graphic News
Advertisement