Two senior leaders in an al-Qaida-aligned group were killed this week in Syria by a new U.S. weapon packed with blades, according to a report.
Qassam al-Urduni of Jordan and Bilal al-Sanaani of Yemen, both of whom were commanders in the al-Qaida-linked group Horas al-Din, or “Guardians of Religion,” were killed Sunday, The Associated Press reported.
Video that was shared of the car in which they were said to be riding showed only one side damaged and the roof smashed in, instead of the typical damage from an explosion.
This led to the conclusion that a weapon whose existence was first revealed last May had been used, according to Fox News.
The Fox report said that the R9X missile, a variant on the Hellfire anti-tank missile, was developed by the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency and bears colloquial nicknames that include the “Flying Ginsu” or the “ninja bomb.”
“The Hellfire R9X missile is a modified version of the Hellfire anti-tank missile, the likes of which have been featured on America drones like the Reaper and Predator. The reference to knives is no accident, as it features multiple steel blades that emerge from the missile moments before impact,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox.
A US strike kills a notable al-Qaeda leader in Syria. A video of the car he was in. pic.twitter.com/5qtVukN5O1 modern weapons!
— Hassan Hassan (@hxhassan) June 14, 2020
“The result is a much smaller kill radius, which can limit the damage caused by the missile to the intended target area. Such a feature is increasingly needed for counterterrorism campaigns, where the fighting is closer-in, and the environment around the target is more dense and likely to be filled with non-combatants,” he said.
The missile has already shown his worth, he added.
“Some analysts allege that the Hellfire R9X was used in Iraq in a deadly display of its effectiveness this January against Qassem Soleimani — the former commander of Iran’s IRGC Quds-Force, and Abu-Mahdi al-Muhandis, the former commander of pro-Iranian militias in Iraq,” Taleblu said.
“One lasting impact of that strike is how removing the leadership cadre can handicap or hinder efforts of a larger organization. We are likely to see continued use of this weapon in U.S. counterterrorism campaigns to target leaders on the battlefield.”
Terrorists on the run from U.S. drones frequently mingle with civilians in an attempt to make collateral damage an impediment to any strike. The R9X can overcome that strategy.
The existence of the missile was first reported on last May by The Wall Street Journal
The weapon is the fruit of research and development that began in 2011, the outlet reported.
According to an analysis by The War Zone, the R9X has a kill zone of about 40 inches from its body.
It’s called an R9X pic.twitter.com/mWYpdyN0Jo
— John Arthur Cox III (@artisanalprofa1) June 15, 2020
Aftermath of a Hellfire R9X hitting it’s target. Purely Kinetic Energy based AGM having blades to decimate what comes it’s way. A very lethal & precise weapon, with little to no collateral damage at the same time. Excellent for targeting specific individuals in crowded spaces. https://t.co/aufnfseeGf
— Armoured Assault (@AssaultArmoured) June 15, 2020
“Ginsu Missile” R9X Hellfire.
“It slices! It dices!” https://t.co/h4ngrZPUV2
— WE4OU – ❌ (@ECW4OU) June 15, 2020
Col. John Venable, a Heritage senior research fellow and former F-16 Air Force pilot, said the R9X is an new version of an old-school concept.
“The munition with ‘knives’ has been around since at least the Vietnam War. The military term for the warhead is ‘flechettes,’ which are dart-like submunitions that are released and spread out in flight as an anti-personnel device,” Venable said.
“Munitions have had a variety of warheads since before the Civil War, where they used everything from classic exploding cannonballs, to dumbbell-shaped projectiles and ‘grapeshot,’ which was basically shotgun-shell BBs (only much larger) that used mass and velocity as the engagement mechanism,” he added. “It’s really not much different today. There are high-explosive, penetrating, and even inert warheads — that use mass and velocity as the engagement mechanism while minimizing collateral damage.”
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