The CIA's latest high tech assassination precision strike missile appears something straight out of Mortal Kombat. "To the targeted person, it is as if a speeding anvil fell from the sky," the WSJ wrote, revealing the weapon publicly for the first time based on interviews with over a dozen current and former defense officials.
The R9X is the newest "secret" missile in the CIA arsenal and is nicknamed the "flying Ginsu" — given its six blades used to kill targets on impact as the missile lands at high speed, without carrying an explosive payload.
It's a modified version of the Hellfire missile which can shred anything in its path on impact, but designed to prevent or minimize civilian deaths.
It's also sometimes called "the Ninja Bomb" for its ability to rip through cars and buildings after being fired from a UAV as a kind of 100-pound giant flying switchblade, but since it doesn't create a blast radius, is optimal for individual targeting.
According to the WSJ, the CIA began development of the missile in 2011 for close proximity "war on terror" targeted assassinations — also as a way to protect non-combatants who might be used as human shields, as terrorists tend to embed themselves within urban civilian populations.
NEW - @WSJ confirms the @CIA & @DeptofDefense have a new "secret" missile - the R9X, or "flying Ginsu" - which kills a selected target with 6 blades, but no explosive payload.— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) May 9, 2019
-- "To the targeted person, it's as if a speeding anvil fell from the sky."https://t.co/DIQfnfJYDq pic.twitter.com/iM87WUFLhg
The WSJ described the newly revealed weapon further as follows:
To the targeted person, it is as if a speeding anvil fell from the sky, the officials said. But this variant of the Hellfire missile, designated as the R9X, also comes equipped with a different kind of payload: a halo of six long blades that are stowed inside and then deploy through the skin of the missile seconds before impact, shredding anything in its tracks.
One official noted in the report the R9X is "for the express purpose of reducing civilian casualties" — which has apparently worked the handful of times it's been used on the battlefield.
Defense and intelligence officials cited by the WSJ revealed successful deployments in counter-terror operations in Libya, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen.
One of the confirmed uses of the R9X was in Syria on Feb 26, 2017 in Idlib, during the reported CIA assassination of al-Qaeda deputy leader Abu Al-Khayr al-Masri.
Analysts had been perplexed at the time as to the precision hole in the car's roof yet without any clear trace of an explosive blast impact, and Masri was confirmed dead inside.
I remember puzzling over these cuts for ages trying to work out what had hit the car of Abu Khayr al-Masri, deputy leader of Al-Qaeda.— Nick Waters (@N_Waters89) May 9, 2019
Turns out it was a Hellfire missle with fucking swords attached to it. pic.twitter.com/aJW524c1Ph
Now it's mystery solved: that's right, the CIA took out a jihadist via a giant 6-bladed flying knife, apparently.
If US officials are now going public with this high tech yet somewhat medieval sounding slice-and-dice device, in an apparent attempt to assure the public it cares about civilian casualties, we only wonder what kind of "creative" killing machines still remain classified.