[Image Courtesy of Looney Tunes]







The Hellfire missile is a laser guided projectile, which carries a high explosive payload used to kill main battle tanks.  Fired from U.S. Helicopters during Operation Desert Storm, few people have not seen the destructive power of the Hellfire in some form of video media.  Adept at destroying heavy armour, it would not be long before the Hellfire’s versatility was realized and used for other applications. Both the CIA and Pentagon would see the value in arming high altitude surveillance drones with Hellfire ordinance that could linger over targets for hours. Hellfire’s would be used by the CIA to assassinate al-Qaeda high value targets (HVTs), at any opportunity. These assassinations would be known as “Drone Strikes.”  This type of decapitation warfare became the ultimate solution for the Obama administration, and the problem of high ranking terrorists and insurgents.  The perfect clandestine strike tool, drone fired missiles tended to cause unacceptable levels of collateral damage.  A report authored by the United Nations found that over a two year period U.S. Special Operations UAV strikes in Afghanistan had killed 200 people, of which only 35 people were the intended high value targets.  Nearly 90 percent of the people killed by drone strikes were unnecessarily eliminated, and a violation of international humanitarian law.  The answer to this dilemma would be for the Pentagon & the CIA to quietly develop a new Hellfire Missile variant capable of surgically killing a single individual.  The answer would be the R9X.  The AGM-114R9X contains no high explosive and uses a lethal combination of kinetic energy and giant switchblades to kill the target.  The missile is deployed the same as traditional Hellfire ordinance.  The R9X is guided to the target with lasers and hits the objective with 100 lbs of Newton’s Law of Kinetic Energy, in fusion with a horror show of 6 long blades that deploy at the impact site.  Media reports have demonstrated the precision and accuracy of the R9X Flying Ginsu; nick-named in honour of the popular late night infomercial chefs knife.  Photographic images have documented the R9X cleanly punching a hole through the roof of a targeted vehicle and killing the terrorist with remarkable accuracy and little to no collateral damage.  No longer can HVTs surround themselves with human shields and feel protected from the reach of an aerial drone strike.


What Is The R9X Missile?

  • AGM-114R9X also known as the R9X-is a modified version of the Hellfire missile –it is a laser-guided weapon originally developed for use by U.S. Army helicopters as a “tank buster” (The Drive-War Zone, 2019)
  • The R9X missile has no explosive warhead—instead; its payload is more than 100 pounds of metal, including long blades that deploy from the body of the missile just before impact (ars technical, 2019)
  • Instead of exploding, the weapon uses sheer force to kill its target (Business Insider, 2019)
  • What makes the R9X especially deadly is that it carries six long blades that extend outward just before impact, shredding anything in its path (Business Insider, 2019)


[Image-R9X Strike -Reddit, 2020]

Nom de Guerre

  • Flying Ginsu
  • Flying Anvil
  • Ninja Bomb
  • America’s “Ginsu Missile” (The Drive-War Zone, 2019)


What is a Ginsu?

  • The Ginsu is a chef’s knife that was advertised on late night television & info-commercials in the 1970s & 80s
  • The info-commercials demonstrated the Ginsu knife cutting through leather shoes and beer cans

     YouTube Ginsu Video     https://youtu.be/QUarASqrVnY


What Military Contractor Produces the R9X Missile?

  • There is no open source intelligence indicating what ordinance contractor is producing the AGM-114R9X
  • Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman have built multiple variants of the Hellfire Missile in the past


Who Uses The R9X?

  • The R9X modified Hellfire missile is used by the Pentagon and the CIA for pinpoint strikes (Business Insider, 2019)


When Was The R9X Developed?

  • Development of the R9X reportedly began in 2011 (Business Insider, 2019)


 Why Was The R9X Developed?

  • The R9X is best for targeting individuals & was developed “for the express purpose of reducing civilian casualties” (Business Insider, 2019)
  • During the Obama administration, drone strikes increased exponentially and unnecessary civilian casualties were the subject of a report from Ben Emmerson, special investigator for the United Nations Human Rights Council. Emmerson reported that U.S. drone strikes may have violated international humanitarian law due to a high civilian casualty rate. The Intercept reported that “Between January 2012 and February 2013, U.S. special operations airstrikes [in North Eastern Afghanistan] killed more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets. During one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets.” (New Engineering.com, 2019)
  • Drone strikes have been the go-to approach by both the US military and the Central Intelligence Agency to take out terrorists and insurgent leaders over the past decade, and the main weapon in those strikes has been the Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire II missile—a laser-guided weapon originally developed for use by Army helicopters as a “tank buster.” But as concerns about collateral damage from drone strikes mounted, the DOD and CIA apparently pushed for development of a new Hellfire that takes the term “surgical strike” to a new level, with a version that could be used to take out a single individual (ars technical, 2019)


Where Has the R9X been Used? 

  • The R9X has been used in at least 5 different countries
  • Libya, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen
  • U.S. military had only fired them operationally “about a half-dozen times” and it is unclear whether this includes CIA-directed strikes (The Drive-War Zone 2019)



What Targets Have been Killed by The R9X Flying Ginsu?


Al Qaeda-Ahmad Hasan Abu Khayr al-Masri

  • In February of 2017, the R9X was used against Egyptian national Ahmad Hasan Abu Khayr al-Masri, second-in-command of al Qaeda in the province of Idlib, Syria-by a CIA-operated aircraft (ars technical, 2019)


Al Qaeda-Jamal al-Badawi

  • In January 2019, the R9X was used against Jamal al-Badawi, a Yemeni al Qaeda operative who the Pentagon alleged was behind the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole at a Yemeni port, which killed 17 US sailors (New Enineering.com, 2019)


Al Qaeda Offshoot- Hayat Tahrir al-Sham- Abu Ahmed al-Jaziri

  • In December 2019, the R9X is thought to have been used against two terrorists, one identified as Abu Ahmed al-Jaziri a foreign HTS fighter who was a trainer for the groups’ elite Red Unit (Task & Purpose, 2019)


The strikes took out the targets but did not blow up the vehicles they were in (ars technical, 2019)


What Are The Advantages of the R9X?

  • Psychological impact on terrorist organizations
  • Terrorists can now be reached in places where they felt safe before
  • The weapon is designed to give the U.S. government a way to target individual terrorists and militants with an extremely low chance of collateral damage, even to individuals very close by (The Drive-War Zone 2019)
  • High Value Targets will often surround themselves with innocent bystanders (Human Shields), especially children in order to prevent being killed by drones using high explosive hellfire ordinance and conventional bombs dropped from fighter jets
  • The R9X’s design is both cost- and time-effective, as drones do not have to linger while awaiting clearance of civilians (Military Times, 2019)
  • The blades can cut through concrete, sheet metal, and other materials surrounding a target (ars technical, 2019)
  • The R9X uses kinetic energy and 6 long blades instead of high explosive to kill the designated target, this reduced collateral damage
  • So precise is the munitions, that a target riding in the passenger seat of a moving car could be eliminated without killing the driver (Military Times, 2019)



The US reportedly took out an alleged terrorist with a Hellfire missile full of swords-Task & Purpose-Jared Keller (2019) https://taskandpurpose.com/r9x-hellfire-missile-syria-strike-terrorist

Secret Hellfire Missile With Sword-Like Blades Made Mysterious Strike On Terror Leader In Syria-The Drive-War Zone-Joseph Trevithick (2019) https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/27917/secret-hellfire-missile-with-sword-like-blades-made-mysterious-syria-strike-on-terror-leader

The US has a secret knife missile that kills terrorists without harming civilians-Business Insider-Ryan Pickrell (2019) https://www.businessinsider.com/us-has-a-secret-knife-missile-to-kill-terrorists-not-civilians-2019-5

‘Ninja bomb’ is a bladed anvil that shreds terrorists with no risk of collateral damage, Pentagon says-Military Times-J.D. Simkins (2019) https://www.militarytimes.com/off-duty/military-culture/2019/05/14/ninja-bomb-is-a-bladed-anvil-that-shreds-terrorists-with-no-risk-of-collateral-damage-pentagon-says/

The Story of the Secret “Flying Ginsu” Weapon-New Engineering.com-Andrew Wheeler (2019) https://new.engineering.com/story/the-story-of-the-secret-flying-ginsu-weapon

IT SLICES AND DICES —Drones used missiles with knife warhead to take out single terrorist targets-ARS Technica-Sean Gallagher (2019) https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2019/05/dod-cia-developed-flying-ginsu-missile-to-take-out-single-targets/

Some Cautionary Notes on the New ‘Knife Missile’-Defense One- ARTHUR HOLLAND MICHEL (2019) https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2019/05/some-cautionary-notes-new-knife-missile/156943/

A Hellfire Missile With F***ing Swords Attached to It’: Pentagon Unveils New Weapon-Common Dreams-Eoin Higgins (2019) https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/05/09/hellfire-missile-fing-swords-attached-it-pentagon-unveils-new-weapon

The Pentagon and CIA have a secret missile that shreds targets with giant flying knives-Tech Crunch-Taylor Hatmaker (2019) https://techcrunch.com/2019/05/13/pentagon-missile-r9x-knives/

Taliban financier killed by air strike in Afghanistan in first documented use of R9X in that country-Image-Reddit (2020) https://www.reddit.com/r/LessCredibleDefence/comments/env9rc/taliban_financier_killed_by_air_strike_in/

Wile E. Coyote-Image-Looney Tunes (2020)