The CIA and Pentagon have apparently found a new solution to their high civilian casualty rates from drone strikes – a targeted ‘ninja bomb’ which doesn’t explode. Twitter, however, is far from convinced.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the top secret Hellfire R9X has no explosive warhead, with the US military opting instead for a payload of 100lbs of metal in the form of six blades that deploy from the body of the missile moments before impact, shredding everything in the immediate area, and bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘surgical strike.’
The laser-guided sword has reportedly been deployed on at least six occasions to target Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders who used women and children as civilian human shields, including a January 2019 US Air Force strike against Jamal al-Badawi, the mastermind behind the USS Cole bombing that killed 17 sailors and wounded at least 40, and a 2017 CIA strike against Al-Qaeda leader Ahmad Hasan Abu Khayr al-Masri.
The R9X was also considered as a plan B for killing Osama bin Laden.
Dubbed the “the flying Ginsu,” after a brand of knives sold via TV commercials in the US in the 70s and 80s, the weapon was reportedly in development as far back as 2011, as the Obama administration sought to limit civilian casualties during its record-setting drone operations.
Obama quickly developed a legacy as the ‘drone president’, with 541 drone strikes throughout his time in office killing an estimated 3,797 people, including 324 civilians. Current US President Donald Trump has rescinded the Obama-era mandate to report civilian casualties by drone strike outside war zones.
Since the revelations about the new weapon emerged, many on Twitter have questioned the need for the blades given that a laser-guided, 100lb chunk of metal dropped from several thousand feet would, in and of itself, be enough to obliterate a human target.