Syrian al-Qaeda Figures Killed With ‘Flying Ginsu’ Variant of Hellfire Missile

Non-explosive weapon described as 'an anvil covered in swords'

A weekend drone strike that killed a pair of al-Qaeda leaders in northwestern Syria appears to have been one of the first uses of a seldom deployed variant of the US-made Hellfire missile, the R9X variant. This is known as the “flying Ginsu.”

While the heavily-used AGM-114 Hellfire missiles are explosive-based, the variant is a non-explosive weapon, described as ‘an anvil covered in swords.’ The bomb fans out the swords and means to cut the enemy to ribbons.

This was meant to preclude the large explosives that regular bombs often cause, arguing that just flinging a bunch of swords at people would cause fewer civilian casualties. It’s not clear this has panned out, as the US has officially not discussed how often they are deployed or the consequences.

Officially the R9X has not been a matter of public record at all, but they have been reported to have been used a handful of times since 2017. The  attacks reported to involve the weapon seem to be vehicles.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of