This is the Hellfire R9X, the missile with “flying blades” with which the US killed the last leader of Al Qaeda

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Last Sunday, the United States killed al Qaeda leader Aymán az Zawahirí in a special drone operation in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. According to President Joe Biden it was about a “precision strike” with no civilian casualties. The question is: how has this country managed to eliminate one of the most wanted terrorists without him being able to sneak through the streets of the city and, more importantly, how to do it without destroying half the neighborhood?

The key seems to be in the modified Hellfire R9X missile whose nicknames are “The Flying Ginsu”, in reference to some knives that were sold in the seventies, and “The Ninja Bomb”, for its supposed characteristics. US authorities acknowledged that Aymán az Zawahirí was hit by Hellfire-type missiles while he was on the balcony of a house, but did not provide many details.

According to ReutersConventional Hellfire missiles are highly accurate weapons for hitting targets. However, they often cause significant damage, such as the demolition of entire buildings, resulting in a high number of victims and injuries. Thus, everything seems to indicate that the CIA would have used this modified version instead of an explosive charge, it has flying blades capable of slicing through the roof of a car or the walls of a building, eliminating human targets.

A modified Hellfire missile attack

But how do you come to the conclusion that the United States could have used R9X Hellfire missiles if the official information does not mention it? A analysis of the British news agency to the photographs of the place of the attack reveals that while the windows of the second floor, which is where the terrorist would have been found, were destroyed, the rest of the structure of the house remained intactcharacteristics that are not compatible with an attack with conventional Hellfires missiles, but that would be related to the modified version whose development and use has remained secret.

Lockheed Martin Hellfire II

According to The Wall Street Journal, this type of modified weapon would have been developed during the administration of Barack Obama to improve precision attacks, thus avoiding causing harm to civilians in the area of ​​​​attack. The newspaper further notes that these missiles are currently believed to be in the arsenal of the CIA and the US Special Operations Command. Hellfire R9Xs are reportedly made by Lockheed Martin and Northrop Gumman, and are designed to be launched from drones like the MQ-9 Reaper and the MQ-1C Gray Eagle made by General Atomics.

So how does it work? The Hellfire R9X are launched from drones. Once in the air, they have a laser guidance system that is the central axis of their high precision. Before hitting, unfolds its sharp blades being able to cross everything in its path and, consequently, causing lethal damage to humans sheltering behind certain structures. For example, in February 2017, according to WSJ, one of al Qaeda’s leaders, Abu Khayr al-Masri, was killed by a modified missile in Syria while traveling by car. The pictures show the perforated roof, but the rest of the vehicle parts intact.

After nearly two decades of development, America's most expensive and ambitious aircraft carrier is ready for action

After the Aymán az Zawahirí attack, the secrecy regarding the Hellfire R9X missiles remains high. The United States has not publicly acknowledged its use, although it is estimated that, despite its qualities, it has only been used about six times. always against high-profile targets, such as terrorist leaders. Qassam al-Urduni and Bilal al-Sanaani, two commanders of the Syrian organization Tanzim Hurras ad-Din, were also reportedly killed by this type of precision attack. It would even have been considered as an alternative for the elimination of Osama bin Laden, but finally another type of plan was chosen.

Pictures | Wikimedia Commons | So far there are no public screenshots of the Hellfire R9X. The images in this article correspond to the conventional version of the missile (AGM-114).

Last Sunday, the United States killed al Qaeda leader Aymán az Zawahirí in a special drone operation in Kabul, the…

Last Sunday, the United States killed al Qaeda leader Aymán az Zawahirí in a special drone operation in Kabul, the…

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