A recent
story by the Wall Street Journal detailed a new kind of projectile that the U.S. has developed to cut down on civilian casualties while neutralizing terrorist targets from the unfriendly skies.

In a report published Thursday, “Multiple current and former U.S. officials” told the newspaper about the existence of the R9X, a missile designed to kill intended targets without subjecting nearby civilians to things like the force, heat, and shrapnel generated by explosive missiles.

So how does it work?

The R9X is a variant of the Hellfire missile, which was used against ISIS propagandist Mohammed
“Jihadi John” Emwazi in 2015. Instead of an explosive, the new projectile contains an inert warhead that’s designed to come down on the target like a 100-pound, rocket-propelled sledgehammer, minus the handle.

And if that weren’t bad enough for the person at the receiving end of this newly unveiled piece ballistic technology, the warhead is assisted by a ring of six long blades that deploy around the projectile right before impact, shredding anything unfortunate enough to be in the way.

Here’s a handy diagram:

As Task & Purpose’s Jared Keller explained it, “this is basically like dropping a rocket-assisted meteor full of swords on someone.”

The Wall Street Journal story said that the Pentagon and the CIA have used the weapon before while keeping its existence a closely guarded secret.

The story also noted that the small number of people who knew about the R9X have nicknamed it “the flying Ginsu,” in reference to the famously sharp brand of knife that used to be sold on television informercials.

The effects of the R9X can be seen in the photos of the February 2017 drone strike against al-Qaeda leader Ahmad Hasan Abu Khayr al-Masri.

A starburst of cuts is visible in the top of the late jihadist’s car, and even though the windshield was severely cracked, the windshield wipers are still in place.

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