Did the US use its secret R9X ‘Ninja Hellfire’ missile to kill Al Zawahiri? par James Haines-Young
The US is said to have developed anti-personnel weapon to kill without explosives and avoid collateral damage
Aircraft and drones usually fire missiles loaded with high explosives designed to blow a target to pieces. But the missiles fired from a US drone to kill Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri on his balcony in Kabul early on Sunday morning may be different.
The US has not officially confirmed the type of weapon used in the strike other than two hellfire missiles were fired from a drone.
But military analysts said there were signs it may have been Washington’s so-called flying Ginsu R9X variant of the Hellfire missile, also nicknamed the Ninja Hellfire.
What is the R9X Hellfire?
Hellfire missiles, mostly made by Lockheed Martin, are precision-guided munitions for air-to-ground strikes that normally cause significant damage, taking down whole buildings and killing or severely injuring anyone nearby.
But the modified R9X is designed to kill individual people and not groups.
It is purported to be so precise that it can hit a single occupant of a car, leaving others unscathed.
While there are several variants of the Hellfire missile — anti-armour, anti-personnel, and other low-impact, reduced explosive variants — the R9X is different.
The variant has a solid metal warhead weighing 45 kilograms that one US official told the Wall Street Journal was like an anvil falling from the sky. READ MORE