M47 Dragon

M47 Dragon
M47 Dragon
Dragon 04.jpg
Parts of M47 Dragon kit (shown with daytime tracker attached).
Type Anti-tank missile
Place of origin United States
Service history
In service 1975 - 1995
Used by See Users
Wars Iran-Iraq war, Gulf War
Production history
Designer Raytheon
Designed March 3, 1966
Manufacturer McDonnell Douglas, Raytheon
Unit cost $13,000 (standard),[3] $51,000 (With Night Tracking System)[3]
Produced 1975
Number built 7,000 Launchers, 33,000 Missiles (US Army)[1]
17,000 Missiles (US Marines)[1]
Variants Dragon II, Super Dragon, Saeghe 1 and 2[2]
Specifications (FGM-77)
Length 1,154 mm (45.4 in)
Diameter 140 mm
Crew 1

Effective range 1000 meters, minimum 75 meters
Maximum range 1000-1500 meters
Warhead Hollow charge

Speed 200 m/s (660 ft/s)
SACLOS system sights

The M47 Dragon (developmental designation FGM-77) is an American shoulder-fired, man-portable anti-tank missile system. It has since been phased out in US service, in favor of the newer FGM-148 Javelin system.[4]



It used a wire-guidance system in concert with a high explosive anti-tank warhead and was capable of defeating armored vehicles, fortified bunkers, main battle tanks, and other hard targets. While it was primarily created to defeat the Soviet Union's T-55, T-62, and T-72 tanks, it has since seen action up into the current era including the Persian Gulf War. The U.S. Armed Forces officially retired the weapon in the late 1990s - however stocks of the weapon remain in arsenals.

US soldiers in Grenada, 1983.

In use by the U. S. Army, the U.S. Marine Corps, as well as many foreign militaries, the design was first fielded in January 1975 to US soldiers stationed in Europe.[5] The effective range of the Dragon was about 1000 meters, with the rocket traveling 100 meters per second, guided by an infrared sight. The operator had to continue to track the missile to its target, which exposed him to enemy fire. The principles of flight and guidance were interesting. The first oddity was the delay between snapping the trigger and the ignition of the launch motor. This was due to a chemical battery charging the initiator circuit (the operator could hear a rising whine similar to the whine made by early integrated flash cameras when charging the flash circuit). This usually led to the operator tensing up in anticipation of the sudden explosion from the launcher that he knew was coming. The missile was discharged from the launcher tube by a "launch motor", which was a rocket motor that completely expended itself within the tube so as not to injure the operator with exhaust gas. The missile coasted away from the operator and a burning infrared flare was ignited at the rear of the missile. The "service motor" which drove the missile to the target was, in this case, a series of small explosive charges set into the skin of the missile. These were activated by the sight controller which sent signals from the sight mechanism to the missile along the wire which spooled out behind the missile and remained connected to the sight. The operator kept the sight crosshairs on the target; the sight tracked the infrared flare and sent corrections to the missile service motor to bring the flight of the missile to the crosshairs aim point. The service charges were fired as needed both to keep the missile correcting toward the aim point and to keep it up and moving forward. If the operator over-corrected his aim point beyond the service motor's capability to keep up, the missile grounded itself. This was a recoilless weapon—the launcher did not "kick", per se, when fired—but the sudden loss of the 30 lb missile weight from the shoulder caused many soldiers to flinch badly enough to lose track of the target, resulting in a missile grounding.

US soldier firing M47 Dragon.

The Dragon was not particularly popular with U.S. soldiers. Because of the missile's relatively short range and loud firing signature, Dragon crew were expected to take heavy casualties in the event of a war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.


Dragon II

Designed and upgraded from Dragon in 1985 when its penetration effectiveness was increased.


Upgraded from Dragon II in 1990, it was capable of penetrating 18 inches (450 mm) of armor at a maximum effective range of 1,500 meters.


Iran has reverse-engineered a version of the Dragon, the Saeghe. They displayed it in 2002 at the Defendory exhibition in Athens, when it was in mass production.[2] Hezbollah acquired Saeghes for anti-tank and anti-armor uses.[6]

Known versions include Saeghe-1 and Saeghe-2.[2]


The launcher system of the Dragon consists of a smoothbore fiberglass tube, breech/gas generator, tracker, bipod, battery, sling, and forward and aft shock absorbers. In order to fire the weapon, non-integrated day or night sights must be attached. While the launcher itself is expendable, the sights can be removed and reused.


Swiss Army M47 Dragon on display

See also


  1. ^ a b c "M-47 DRAGON Anti-Tank Guided Missile". Federation of American Scientists. http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/m47-dragon.htm. Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  2. ^ a b c Archived May 8, 2003 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b "M47 Dragon". 2008-01-19. http://www.hesterman.net/Html/dragon_m47.htm. Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  4. ^ "Dragon". deagel.com. 2008-12-20. http://www.deagel.com/Anti-Armor-Weapons-and-Missiles/Dragon_a000845001.aspx. Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  5. ^ "Anti-Tank Missiles: M47 Dragon". Olive-Drab. http://www.olive-drab.com/od_infweapons_at_missiles_dragon.php. Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  6. ^ Riad Kahwaji (2006-08-20). "Arab States Eye Better Spec Ops, Missiles". Ocus.net. http://www.ocnus.net/cgi-bin/exec/view.cgi?archive=100&num=25670&printer=1. Retrieved 2009-01-10. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Jones, Richard D. Jane's Infantry Weapons 2009/2010. Jane's Information Group; 35 edition (January 27, 2009). ISBN 978-0-7106-2869-5.
  8. ^ a b "Spike Anti-Armour Missile Systems, Israel". Army Technology. http://www.army-technology.com/projects/gill/. Retrieved 2009-01-20. 

External links

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