The US government has developed a secret missile to launch pinpoint airstrikes against terrorists and their leaders “with no explosion”, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The newspaper cited unnamed US officials as saying that the use of the specially designed new missile with “extraordinarily accurate intelligence about a target’s location and surroundings” will help “drastically” reduce damage and minimise chances of civilian casualties.
“A modified version of the well-known Hellfire missile, […] the R9X is designed to plunge more than 100 pounds of metal through the tops of cars and buildings to kill its target without harming individuals and property close by”, the officials said.
The R9X aims to target terrorists who adapt to US airstrikes by “hiding among groups of women and children to put themselves out of reach”.
The newspaper notes in this vein that that both the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have already used this weapon, “carefully concealing its existence”.
The missile was reportedly used at least twice: once over Syria in February 2017, and again in Yemen in January.
“A Hellfire, which is a little more than five feet [1.5 m] long and weighs just over 100 pounds [45kg], typically leaves behind mangled, burned-out shells of vehicles, surrounded by debris and scorch marks over a large radius. The R9X leaves no such signature”, the sources pointed out.
The number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 2018 is the highest in any six-month period since they began being counted systemically in 2009, according to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
The US military has repeatedly denied civilian casualties during its missions against Taliban militants in Afghanistan.