M47 Dragon

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M47 Dragon
Dragon 04.jpg
An M47 Dragon, shown here with its daytime tracker attached.
TypeAnti-tank missile
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In service1975–2000
Used bySee Operators
Wars1982 Lebanon War[1]
Invasion of Grenada
Iran–Iraq War
Western Sahara War[2]
Gulf War
Yemeni Civil War (2015-present)[citation needed]
Conflict in Najran, Jizan and Asir[3]
Production history
DesignedMarch 3, 1966[citation needed]
ManufacturerMcDonnell Douglas, Raytheon
Unit cost$13,000 (standard)[4]
$51,000 (with night tracking system)[4]
No. built7,000 launchers, 33,000 missiles (U.S. Army)[5]
17,000 missiles (U.S. Marine Corps)[5]
250,000 missiles (Total)[6]
VariantsDragon II, Dragon III, Super Dragon, Saeghe 1 and 2[7]
Specifications (FGM-77)
Length1,154 mm (45.4 in)
Diameter140 mm

Effective firing range65-1,000 meters
Maximum firing range1,000 meters (1,500 meters Dragon III/ 2,000+ meters Super Dragon)
WarheadHollow charge
Warhead weight3.5lb Octol [8]

Maximum speed 200 m/s (660 ft/s)
SACLOS system sights

The M47 Dragon, known as the FGM-77 during development, is an American shoulder-fired, man-portable anti-tank guided missile system. It was phased out of U.S. military service in 2001, in favor of the newer FGM-148 Javelin system.[9]

The M47 Dragon uses 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 hardened targets. While it was primarily created to defeat the Soviet Union's T-55, T-62, and T-72 tanks, it saw use well into the 1990s, seeing action in the Persian Gulf War. The U.S. military officially retired the weapon in 2001. The United States destroyed the last of its stocks of the missile in 2009. [10] The weapon system remains in active service with other militaries around the world.


A U.S. Army soldier firing M47 Dragon
U.S. Army (from 82nd Airborne Division) soldiers armed with the M47 Dragon during the 1983 Invasion of Grenada

Used by the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marine Corps, as well as many foreign militaries, the M47 Dragon was first fielded in January 1975 to U.S. Army soldiers stationed in mainland Europe.[11] The effective range of the Dragon was about 1,000 metres (3,300 ft), with the missile traveling 100 metres (330 ft) 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 first oddity for using the Dragon 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.

After the missile was about 30 to 50 metres (100 to 160 ft) from the gunner, the missile was propelled forward and guided towards the target by three rows of thrusters aligned longitudinally along the missile body. The rocket spiralled as it moved forward, and the thrusters were fired in pairs to move the missile forward as well as keep the missile on target. 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 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. A missile moving towards a stationary target and tracked by a steady gunner would fire the thrusters about every .5 to 1 second, resulting in its signature 'popping' sound as it moved downrange. If the operator over-corrected his aim point beyond the service motor's capability to keep up, the missile grounded itself. Conversely, if the guidance wire broke, the missile would fire its rockets rapidly, sending the missile into a rapid ascent. This was a recoilless weapon—the launcher did not "kick" per se when fired—but the sudden loss of the 30 pounds (14 kg) missile weight from the shoulder caused many soldiers to flinch badly enough to lose track of the target, resulting in a missile grounding.[citation needed]

Penetration of the basic missile was disappointing, a mere 330mm.[12][13] While later variants would improve upon this, the missile was never particularly effective.



The basic missile, the Dragon has a 1,000 meter range and penetrates 330mm of armor[14][15]

Dragon II[edit]

A simple warhead upgrade, the Dragon II, originally "Dragon PIP", received a new warhead that offered a 85% increase in penetration,[16] to about 610mm. Dragon II entered service in 1988

Dragon III[edit]

A further improved Dragon II, the Dragon III received a even more powerful dual shaped charge[17] warhead, reportedly a Dragon II head with additional precursor charge.[18] Exact penetration remains unknown, though it was claimed to be "several hundred millimeters" better than the SMAW's 600-mm pen HEAA rocket.

Additionally, the motor was improved, allowing the missile to reach a range of 1,000 meters in 6.5 seconds, much faster than the original missile's 11 second flight time. The improved motor increased the range as well, propelling Dragon III to 1,500 meters. But Actually, Cancelled in 1989. Unofficially sometimes referred to as FGM-77C.

The second final improvement was a new combined day/night tracker with laser guidance[19] Only the United States Marine Corps bought this variant, beginning in 1991,[20] while the Army opted to wait for Javelin to enter service.

Super Dragon[edit]

1990. Also known as Dragon II+. The Final Dragon Version From the US variant appears to have been produced in Switzerland for export customers and Used based on United States Marine Corp PIP. Minimal production, 2,755 missiles produced at the time of cessation of production in 1997: no known buyers. Range increased to 2 km (1.2 miles), flight speed increased, and warhead changed to a tandem charge with a precursor charge mounted on a standoff rod: performance was said to be 630mm (24.8 in) RHA behind a layer of ERA. The launcher tube weighed 14.8 kg (32.6 lbs).


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.[7] Hezbollah has acquired Saeghes for anti-tank and anti-armor uses.[21]

Known versions include Saeghe 1 is a copy of Dragon II and Saeghe 2 a copy of Super Dragon. Saeghe 4 is a unique variant with a thermobaric warhead: it is unclear if there is a Saeghe 3. Mostly produced for export, only issued to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (Iranian National Guard).

Saeghe (also transliterated as Saegheh, Saeqeh and several other variations) is a very common name for Iranian weapon systems, among other things also referring to a recon drone, a target drone, a fighter jet, an air-to-air missile and an RPG-7 warhead.[7]


The launcher system of the M47 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.


Map with M47 Dragon operators in blue with former operators in red
A Swiss Army M47 Dragon on display in October 2006.

Current operators[edit]

Former operators[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Katz, Sam; Russell, Lee E (25 Jul 1985). Armies in Lebanon 1982–84. Men-at-Arms 165. Osprey Publishing. p. 7. ISBN 9780850456028.
  2. ^ "Le Front Polisario revendique une nouvelle attaque contre les troupes marocaines". Le Monde (in French). 16 July 1987.
  3. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFxrJb1-c3k
  4. ^ a b "M47 Dragon". 2008-01-19. Archived from the original on 2011-07-23. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
  5. ^ a b c "M-47 DRAGON Anti-Tank Guided Missile". Federation of American Scientists. Archived from the original on 2008-12-24. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
  6. ^ "McDonnell Douglas/Raytheon FGM-77A (M-47) Dragon" (PDF). www.flightglobal.com. Flight International. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 25, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c "IRAN PRESENTS VERSION OF U.S. ANTI-TANK MISSILE". Middle East Newsline. December 3, 2002. Archived from the original on 2003-05-08. Retrieved 2009-11-17.
  8. ^ https://ia601509.us.archive.org/4/items/usmc-introduction-the-the-m-47-dragon-1987/USMC%20Introduction%20the%20the%20M47%20Dragon%201987.pdf
  9. ^ Figueroa, Jose (November 21, 2000). "School of Infantry students shoot the works, herald new antitank era". Marines. Archived from the original on February 19, 2013. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
  10. ^ https://www.army.mil/article/27423/admc_destroys_armys_last_dragon_missiles
  11. ^ "Anti-Tank Missiles: M47 Dragon". Olive-Drab. Archived from the original on 2008-05-17. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
  12. ^ http://www.bits.de/NRANEU/others/amd-us-archive/FM90-10-1C1%2895%29.pdf
  13. ^ https://www.bits.de/NRANEU/others/amd-us-archive/fm_90-10%2879%29.pdf
  14. ^ https://www.bits.de/NRANEU/others/amd-us-archive/fm_90-10%2879%29.pdf
  15. ^ http://www.bits.de/NRANEU/others/amd-us-archive/FM90-10-1C1%2895%29.pdf
  16. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=fBqZ7m-ncI4C&pg=RA2-PA64&dq=dragon+II+range&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjBt-Ts1avvAhUDMlkFHdLzBxkQ6AEwA3oECAMQAg#v=onepage&q&f=false
  17. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=Q3gfAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA331&dq=Department+of+Defense+Appropriations+1989+dragon&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjinYG_26vvAhXqFFkFHaczBhwQ6AEwAXoECAAQAg#v=onepage&q&f=false
  18. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=pVf7atYCTOUC&pg=PA365&dq=dragon+III+sight&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiLmfX53avvAhWSElkFHQd-CyMQ6AEwAXoECAcQAg#v=onepage&q&f=false
  19. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=lA5wVrTBNPEC&pg=PP1&dq=DEPARTMENT+OF+DEFENSE+APPROPRIATIONS+1990+part+1&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi2ob3O4KvvAhU-FVkFHVe7CR0Q6AEwAnoECAcQAg#v=onepage&q=dragon&f=false
  20. ^ https://books.googleusercontent.com/books/content?req=AKW5QafD97rfz47WvmzgtW0blFY3HGyjAs88VcZTIrgoR7cflZiVdVXveYWZU-ef_VbsuSbkqQWKJExVGaW0xQR6FkmRXPoAPb0cKN3qIGdZKAEXiinXqVRPcxf-kbFViApaUca_llC__VH9r60kqkvvC58-GKmT5sNn8UyTZPNnF2Z591aslAtEOGWiO5UMExtmYTYyWqqz5drGxzuZd6e9ctIB2mHturZESK22wktfUnv_ECuvl8ztgeAIBOAwdbebL6MCRgnRXKsfNnWZ7BOf5rR0XRYn6z13yExye8hHgqjh3FmJOrI
  21. ^ Riad Kahwaji (2006-08-20). "Arab States Eye Better Spec Ops, Missiles". Ocus.net. Archived from the original on 2009-02-27. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g Jones, Richard D. Jane's Infantry Weapons 2009/2010. Jane's Information Group; 35 edition (January 27, 2009). ISBN 978-0-7106-2869-5.
  23. ^ a b "Spike Anti-Armour Missile Systems, Israel". Army Technology. Archived from the original on 2009-01-27. Retrieved 2009-01-20.
  24. ^ "PAL-System wird nach dreissig Jahren Einsatz liquidiert". Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports. 2007-10-23. Archived from the original on 2016-01-21. Retrieved 2016-07-09.
  25. ^ "Javelin Block 0". www.deagel.com.
  26. ^ "Jordan – JAVELIN Guided Missile Systems" (PDF). Defense Security Cooperation Agency. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 16, 2013. Retrieved July 28, 2013.

External links[edit]