Hellfire R9X Missile

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    In News

    • Recently, the US military used its ‘secret weapon’ — the Hellfire R9X missile – to kill Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul.

    About Hellfire R9X missile

    • It is a variant of the original Hellfire missile family.
    • Better known in military circles as the AGM-114 R9X
    • Developed by: Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman (US)
    • In Active Service: since 2017
    • Features:
      • Known to cause minimum collateral damage while engaging individual targets.
      • This weapon does not carry a warhead and instead deploys razor-sharp blades at the terminal stage of its attack trajectory. 
    • Working:
      • Blades help it to break through even thick steel sheets and cut down the target using the kinetic energy of its propulsion without causing any damage to the persons in the general vicinity or to the structure of the building.
      • The blades pop out of the missile and cut down the intended target without causing the massive damage to the surroundings which would be the case with a missile carrying an explosive warhead.

    Image Courtesy: thenationalnews

    Hellfire Missile Family 

    • Hellfire is actually an acronym for Heliborne, Laser, Fire and Forget Missile 
    • It was developed in the US initially to target tanks from the Apache AH-64 attack helicopters. 
    • Usage:
      • Used in conventional form with warheads 
      • Traditionally used from helicopters, ground-based vehicles, and sometimes small ships and fast moving vessels. 
      • Later, the usage also spread to ground and sea-based systems and drones.
      • Armed with Combat Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or drones that the US Military uses in offensive military operations around the world.
    • Other Hellfire missile variants: ‘Longbow’ and ‘Romeo’ apart from the ‘Ninja’.
    • Previously Used:
      • In 2017, the ‘Ninja Missile’ was reportedly used to kill the then No. 2 leader of Al Qaeda in Syria. 
      • It was also used against other targets in Syria at around the same time.
      • It has also been used against Taliban targets in Afghanistan in 2020 and again in 2022.

    Source: IE