To avoid civilian casualties, the US deploys the Hellfire “Ninja” R9X missile. She doesn’t kill with explosives, but with blades. Two of these rockets hit Ayman al Sawahiri on his balcony.

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri was killed while standing on a balcony in a drone strike in the Shispur neighborhood of the Afghan capital Kabul, according to President Joe Biden. He was hit by two Hellfire “Ninja” R9X missiles. The special feature of this weapon: It does not use an explosive warhead. She doesn’t kill with explosives, but with blades. The warhead is metal at the tip, so the weapon can break through obstacles such as a car roof or a light ceiling using only the force of its kinetic energy. Six blades are housed for this purpose, they extend on impact and shred the victim. The US uses this weapon to engage targets even if they are surrounded by civilians who would also be injured in an explosion.

Double hit with two missiles

The US played it safe on the high-level target al Zawahiri, firing two missiles at him, both launched from a drone. The RX-9 is a variant of the well-known Hellfire missile (AGM-114). The Hellfire missiles were originally developed to fight tanks, but then became the main weapon in drone warfare. The Hellfire’s standard warhead contains about nine kilograms of explosives – it produces a kill zone several meters in diameter. The explosion can also release splinters, which can be deadly even at long range.

Enormous precision

The ninja bomb, on the other hand, is only intended to kill the target person. For the target, it was like a raging anvil falling from the sky, anonymous sources told the Wall Street Journal in 2019 when the weapon was first used. Internally, the weapon is dubbed either “Ninja Bomb” or “The Flying Ginsu” after a sort of sharp kitchen knife. The use of the knife bomb shows how accurately the Hellfire missiles find their target. Even if it deviated by a meter or two, the ninja weapon would be useless. It’s theoretically possible to kill someone sitting in the passenger seat of a moving car, but not the driver. The seating position of the target inside the car must therefore be known exactly. An operation is only possible with very good reconnaissance, which is usually done by people on the ground. That’s why the weapon is only used relatively rarely. The effect of the weapon is so limited that it can also be used against people in buildings without an explosion causing the house to collapse.