Posts Tagged ‘kinetic energy warhead’

Anvils Over Kabul

August 8, 2022

Anvils Over Kabul

In Kabul on Sunday morning, July 31st, Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of al-Qaeda, was out on the balcony of his villa, smoking a cigarette, maybe, when his revery was interupted by two Hellfire AGM-114R9X missles, which killed him instantly without disturbing other occupants of the building.

The R9X (Romeo Hellfire) missile does not have an explosive warhead. While it has been called the “Flying Ginsu” since it sprouts a bunch of knife blades immediately before impact, it is the blunt kinetic force of the laser-guided, rocket-powered 100 lb. object dropping out of the the sky like a falling anvil that makes it effective. The missiles have been used to minimize collateral damage to bystanders while eliminating targeted individuals, often while they are in automobiles.

Face it, it’s a precision-guided assassin’s weapon, often called the Ninja Bomb, more a tool of vengeance than justice. Whether it’s an appropriate or ethical instrument for anti-terrorism or foreign policy is another matter.


“Ayman al-Zawahiri: How US strike could kill al-Qaeda leader – but not his family,” Bernd Debusmann Jr, BBC News

“Ayman al-Zawahiri’s death: What is the Hellfire R9X missile that the Americans purportedly used?” Sandra Favier, le Monde

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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