America’s Shadowy Sword Wielding Hellfire Missile Has Migrated To The Afghan Battlefield

The introduction of this exotic weapon to Afghanistan underlines its expanded use for targeted assassinations that we have seen in recent months.

byTyler Rogoway|
Afghanistan photo


The AGM-114R9X, the now infamous Hellfire missile derivative that deploys large sword-like blades instead of high explosives to kill its target with surgical precision, has had its first known operational use in Afghanistan. The strike targeted a Taliban commander. Just days ago, two more American soldiers were killed by the extremist group in Afghanistan. 

The War Zone

was the first to report that some sort of new exotic weapon was used on an attack on a terror kingpin in Syria three years ago. After a two year lull in further reports, the subsequently identified AGM-119R9X started to show up again, striking high-value targets will identical precision and leaving behind its signature octopus-like impact profile. 

Images taken at the site of one such attack unveiled exactly how this weapon was configured. You can read our report on it here and a subsequent one on what we know about the development of this unique and gruesome weapon here. The latest known strike using this weapon occurred less than a month ago. But all of these uses have occurred in Syria, that is until now.

Afghanistan's Ariana News

reported the following (translated) on January 12th, 2019:

"A key Taliban commander was killed as a result of an air strike by Afghan forces in Kunduz, the Interior Ministry said.

The ministry said in a statement that Afghan forces carried out an air strike last night in Imam Saheb district of Kunduz province.

The Taliban's chief financial officer for the northeast of the country was killed in the incident.

The statement said the man was named "Mohabullah" and was a Pakistani citizen. The Taliban have not said anything so far.

The Afghan Defense Ministry added that Afghan forces are stepping up their operations against Taliban fighters.

The Taliban has not yet said anything about the incident."

The AGM-114R9X gives commanders in Afghanistan a weapon with a whole new level of ability to strike high-value individuals even when moving through relatively densely populated areas with minimal chances of unintended casualties. This latest strike is also further evidence that the use of this weapon is expanding fairly rapidly. It isn't clear if the delay in doing so between the first known strike and the recent increase in them starting last May had to do with technical limitations or political ones, or both. Either way, America's "Ginsu Missile" is becoming more of a staple than an oddity. Expect to see much more of it in the future. 

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