The US reportedly took out an alleged terrorist with a Hellfire missile full of swords

Military Tech
An MQ-1 Predator drone fires a Hellfire missile in this undated photo (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Pentagon's secretive R9X Hellfire missile may be more akin to a meteor full of swords than a traditional munition, but that doesn't mean it's any less effective.

According to multiple reports, the U.S.-led coalition to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria reportedly carried out an airstrike against a minivan in the Syrian city of Idlib on Tuesday.

Based on photos of the target vehicle, that strike purportedly used the R9X, which substitutes an explosive charge with a ring of six long blades that deploy seconds before impact, effectively eviscerating the target while avoiding civilian casualties.

With its inert warhead, the R9X is essentially a rocket-powered update to the "Lazy Dog" bombs that U.S. service members would release at terminal velocity from aircraft above the battlefields of Korea and Vietnam.

As the Wall Street Journal reported in May, the R9X Hellfire variant has been covertly deployed against targets in Syria and Yemen since 2017. Indeed, the War Zone details the similarities between this fresh strike and previous deployments of the R9X in Syria:

There are clear similarities here to a strike that killed Abu Khayr Al Masri, then Al Qaeda's number two leader, as he drove in his car in Al Mastouma, Syria, in 2017. This city is also in Idlib and is some 30 miles south of Atmeh. Al Masri's car also suffered the most damage toward the front passenger side and is known to have been the work of an AGM-114R9X, which has reportedly been used extremely sparingly. The War Zone was the first to call attention to the likelihood that a previously unknown munition was used in that strike, which turned out to be the case.

Without seeing the top of the van in Atmeh, which could show telltale signs of the AGM-114R9X's blades striking the vehicle, and with such little additional information about the individuals who died in the strike, it is impossible to say for certain who may have been responsible and exactly weapons they may have been employed.

What is for certain, though, is that the weapon did its job: According to reports, two individuals were killed in the van, one of whom allegedly belonged to the al Qaeda offshoot known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

One report indicates the missile targeted Abu Ahmed al-Jaziri, a foreign HTS fighter who was a trainer for the groups' elite Red Unit.

A Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team Kodiak boat crew displays their new 38-foot Special Purpose Craft - Training Boat in Womens Bay Sept. 27, 2011. (Coast Guard/Petty Officer 2nd Class Charly Hengen)

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(U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Jamarius Fortson)

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(U.S. Navy photo)

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The shooter and two victims were killed at the base and another victim died after being taken to the hospital, said Chip Simmons, deputy chief of the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.

Another seven people remain hospitalized, including two sheriff's deputies who engaged the gunman, Simmons said at Friday's news conference. One was hit in the arm and the other was shot in the knee. Both are expected to recover.

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U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Victoria Fontanelli, an administrative specialist with 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, moves through a simulated village inside the Infantry Immersion Trainer as part of training for the Female Engagement Team, at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. Oct 16, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Brendan Custer)

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"Females are now represented in every previously-restricted occupational field," reads a powerpoint released this month on the Marine Corps Integration Implementation Plan (MCIIP), which notes that 60% of those female Marines and sailors now serving in previously-restricted units joined those units in the past year.

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The troubled 22-year-old Pearl Harbor sailor identified as shooting three shipyard workers Wednesday and then killing himself may have come from a troubled ship.

Gabriel Romero, a sailor on the submarine USS Columbia, fatally shot two civilian workers and wounded a third while the Los Angeles-class vessel is in Dry Dock 2 for a two-year overhaul, according to The Associated Press and other sources.

Romero "opened fire on shipyard personnel with his M-4 service rifle and then turned his M9 service pistol on himself," Fox News Pentagon reporter Lucas Tomlinson reported, citing a preliminary incident report.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam was not able to provide information Thursday on a report that multiple suicides have occurred on the Columbia.

Hawaii News Now said Romero was undergoing disciplinary review and was enrolled in anger management classes.

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