The US military and the CIA appear to have finally solved the issue of killing civilians in their strikes, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
"New weapon kills only bad people, not good people"https://t.co/gzI6djiue4
— Doug Saunders (@DougSaunders) May 9, 2019
The new, or rather modified old, weapon is reportedly the R9X Hellfire Missile and it has been used a handful of times, according to anonymous US government sources.
The CIA has an extra-special Hellfire missile that's basically an anvil covered in swords https://t.co/A6tSGU2dvG
— Jared Keller (@jaredbkeller) May 9, 2019
The anonymous sources told the WSJ that the US military had only fired them operationally “about a half-dozen times,” but had done so against targets in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Somalia.
It is a new kind of bomb that instead of exploding, deploys sword-like blades that kill or maim its human targets. It also allegedly somehow only targets terrorists, but leaves civilians unharmed.
Usually, the AGM-114 Hellfire missile is a weapon used by the US. It is an air-to-surface missile (ASM) first developed for anti-armor use, but later models were developed for precision strikes against other target types, and have been used in a number of targeted killings of high-profile individuals.
Reportedly, the R9X Hellfire missile was used in February 2017, when Al Qaeda’s second-in-command Abu Khayr al Masri was killed after a US drone strike in Idlib, Syria.
Multiple reports that a drone strike in Idlib killed Abu Khayr al-Masri, deputy leader of Al-Qaeda (second in command to Ayman al-Zawahiri). pic.twitter.com/JKmJ1ClCE8
— Tobias Schneider (@tobiaschneider) February 26, 2017
The Drive reported that, indeed, the strike was odd:
“Instead of a burned out and shattered hulk of a vehicle obliterated by the AGM-114 missile, or a smudge surrounded by burnt rubble that results from a GBU-12 500lb laser-guided bomb strike, the car pictured literally has a hole punched through its roof with no real sign of a large explosion. It’s almost as if an anvil was dropped on the car’s occupants. So what’s going on here? It’s not clear, but there are a few possible answers.”
The other case the WSJ could manage to confirm was a similar R9X Hellfire was in a January 1st 2019 strike that killed Jamal Al Badawi, the alleged mastermind of the bombing of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Cole in Yemen in 2000.
Nick Waters, a senior investigator for “investigative website” Bellingcat, also did the math and said it finally made sense.
Anyone remember those weird strikes, probably by US forces, mostly on cars, where there didn’t seem to have been an explosive payload, but everything inside the car was very dead?
Well, here it is, a secret kind of Hellfire:https://t.co/kTx8s5r4kB
— Nick Waters (@N_Waters89) May 9, 2019
Frikken swords, man. pic.twitter.com/7HPWFLLvSD
— Nick Waters (@N_Waters89) May 9, 2019
The six-bladed configuration has reportedly earned the nicknames “ninja bomb” and “the flying Ginsu,” the latter being a reference to a brand of knives sold through television infomercials starting in the 1970s.
The bladed Hellfire missile, appears to not be the only unconventional warhead that the US was using or planning to use.
According to October 2018’s issue of Precision Strike Digest, there are several R9 subvariants of the missile.
Help—what are these Hellfire Romeo variants?
AGM-114R-9X is the bladed variant WSJ reported on, but there are other R-model Hellfires, including 8B, 9E, 9G, 9H, 12E, 13E.
I see a reference to R-9E being for "low collateral damage" & R-9H for "very low collateral damage."
— Wesley Morgan (@wesleysmorgan) May 9, 2019
According to the Drive, it was possible that the entire R9 sub-series is focused on ways to reduce the risk of collateral damage.
Another R9 variant may even have an entirely inert warhead, which would already reduce the risk of collateral damage substantially, essentially making it a flying anvil that just drops on somebody and possibly maims or kills the target. The R9X adds in the blades to help increase kill probability.
This knife missile seems like something ACME Corporation would design to kill Road Runner. The payload would either be knives or it can deploy a goofy, over-sized white-gloved hand that bops you in the head with a hammer. https://t.co/7fsX6U0exD
— David B Larter (@DavidLarter) May 9, 2019
A kinder, gentler hellfire missile. A precision sky-anvil. https://t.co/wHH0nAcYp2
— Aki Peritz (@AkiPeritz) May 9, 2019
Reducing collateral damage is probably not a bad idea, since the average AGM-114 Hellfire missile has the potential of causing a lot.
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