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M47 Dragon

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M47 Dragon
An M47 Dragon, shown here with its daytime tracker attached.
TypeAnti-tank missile
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In service
  • 1975–1990s (US Army)
  • 1975–2001 (US Marine Corps)
  • 1979–present (other countries)
Used bySee Operators
Production history
Designed3 March 1966[citation needed]
ManufacturerMcDonnell Douglas, Raytheon
No. built
  • 7,000 launchers, 33,000 missiles (U.S. Army)[4]
  • 17,000 missiles (U.S. Marine Corps)[4]
  • 250,000 missiles (total)[5]
VariantsDragon II, Dragon III, Saeghe 1, 2, 3 and 4[6]
Specifications (FGM-77)
Mass32.1 lb (14.57 kg) (w/ day sight)[7]
46.9 lb (21.29 kg) (w/ night sight)
Length1,154 mm (45.4 in)
Diameter140 mm

Effective firing range65–1,000 meters
Maximum firing range
  • 1,000 meters
  • 1,500 meters (Dragon III)
WarheadHollow charge
Warhead weight3.5 lb (1.6 kg) Octol[8]

Maximum speed
  • Dragon/Dragon II: 100 m/s (330 ft/s)
  • Dragon II: 200 m/s (660 ft/s)

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 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division armed with the M47 Dragon during the 1983 Invasion of Grenada

In 1959, the US Army Ordnance Missile Command suggested the development of a heavy medium range assault weapon.

In 1960, the United States Army launched the MAW (Medium Anti-tank Weapon) program on a proposal from Douglas. In 1966, Douglas was awarded the contract to develop the XM47. In 1967, the XM47 was redesignated FGM-77 and FTM-77 (the FTM-77 being the training version). The first missile test took place in December 1967 followed by the first shot in real conditions (firing set, guidance and launcher) on 5 July 1968.

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. In April 1981, the deployment of the base version of the Dragon in the Army was complete. The Army initially deployed the Dragon as a squad weapon, with every rifle squad containing an antiarmor specialist who carried the weapon.[11]

Reorganization in the 1990s saw Dragons moved, with mechanized infantry received two launchers per squad.[12] Infantry, Airborne, and Air Assault units received a pair of two-man ATGM teams in the platoon's weapons squad, while Light Infantry (six teams) and Ranger (three teams) units held their Dragons at the company level.[13]

In USMC service, the Dragon was concentrated at the battalion level in a dedicated missile platoon with 32 Dragon teams. The platoon was organized with four sections, each with four squads of two 2-man teams.[14]

Guidance system[edit]

The M47 Dragon uses a so-called "tracking control assembly" (TCA) guidance system previously used on the TOW and Shillelagh missiles. With this system, all that is required of the infantryman is to look through an amplifying optical sight and keep it exactly aligned with the objective.

During this time, a second electro-optical system mounted parallel to the sight visually receives thermal radiation (generally infrared) from a pyrotechnic system located on the tail of the missile and focuses it on a sensitive receiver / locator. This continuously measures via a computer the position of the heat source (the missile) in relation to the line of sight fixed on the objective, any deviation automatically causing the desired correction signal, which is in turn transmitted along wires (connecting the missile to the launcher) and that without any intervention by the operator.



The basic missile, the M222 missile, weighs 11.5 kilograms and is 744mm long in a 1154mm long launch tube.[15] The fairly basic warhead can penetrate 330 mm of armor plate.[16][17]

Dragon II[edit]

Dragon II is a simple warhead upgrade, originally called "Dragon PIP" and officially known as MK1 MOD0. The Dragon II received a new warhead that offers an 85% increase in penetration, to about 600mm.[18] Weight increased to 12.3 kilograms and length to 846mm. Dragon II entered service in 1988.

Dragon III[edit]

A further improved Dragon II, the Dragon III received an even more powerful tandem shaped charge[19] warhead, reportedly a Dragon II head with additional precursor charge.[20] Exact penetration remains unknown, though it is claimed[by whom?] to be "several hundred millimeters" better than the SMAW's 600 mm pen HEAA rocket.

Additionally, the motor is 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 increases the range as well, propelling Dragon III to 1,500 meters.

The second final improvement is a new combined day/night tracker with laser guidance.[21] Only the United States Marine Corps bought this variant, beginning in 1991,[22] while the Army opted to wait for Javelin to enter service.


Iran has reverse-engineered a version of the Dragon, the Saeghe (Persian: صاعقه "lightning"). This version, like many other reverse engineered weaponry built in Iran, is developed by Defense Industries Organization (DIO). They displayed it in 2002 at the Defendory exhibition in Athens, when it was in mass production.[6] Hezbollah has acquired Saeghes for anti-tank and anti-armor uses.[23]

Known versions include Saeghe 1, a copy of Dragon II and Saeghe 2, a copy of Dragon III. Saeghe 3 is not confirmed to exist and Saeghe 4 is believed to use a thermobaric warhead. It is 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. Other things with the name include a recon drone, a target drone, a fighter jet based on the American F-5E, an air-to-air missile, and an RPG-7 warhead.[6]


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. 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.

SU-36/P Day Sight[edit]

The SU-36/P, properly "Infrared Tracker, Guided Missile, SU-36/P", provides the user with control over the missile. The sight slots onto the missile tube and The SU-36/P has a 6x magnification capability and a viewing angle of 6°. The simple crosshair reticle has a pair of stadia lines To the right of the gunner's monocular is an infrared receiver, consisting of a large lens fitted with a filter used to capture the infrared signal emitted by the missile during its flight.

Night Sight AN/TAS-5[edit]

The Dragon night tracker (AN/TAS-5) increases the gunner's ability to engage targets during limited visibility. Targets can be engaged during daylight and also during limited visibility such as smoke, fog, or darkness.


A Swiss Army M47 Dragon on display in October 2006.

Current operators[edit]

Former operators[edit]

Non-State Actors[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Katz, Sam; Russell, Lee E. (25 July 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. ^ "- YouTube". YouTube.
  4. ^ a b c "M-47 Dragon Anti-Tank Guided Missile". Federation of American Scientists. Archived from the original on 24 December 2008. Retrieved 11 January 2009.
  5. ^ "McDonnell Douglas/Raytheon FGM-77A (M-47) Dragon" (PDF). www.flightglobal.com. Flight International. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 August 2018.
  6. ^ a b c "Iran Presents Version of U.S. Anti-Tank Missile". Middle East Newsline. 3 December 2002. Archived from the original on 8 May 2003. Retrieved 17 November 2009.
  7. ^ M47 Dragon Medium Anti-tank Weapon System. Inetres.com.
  8. ^ "USMC Introduction the M-47 Dragon".
  9. ^ Figueroa, Jose (21 November 2000). "School of Infantry students shoot the works, herald new antitank era". Marines. Archived from the original on 19 February 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2012.
  10. ^ "ADMC destroys Army's last DRAGON missiles | Article | The United States Army". 16 September 2009.
  11. ^ "FM 7-8 (1980) Rifle Platoon and Squad".
  12. ^ "FM 7-7J (1993) Bradley Platoon".
  13. ^ https://www.marines.mil/Portals/1/Publications/FM%207-8%20W%20CH%201.pdf#page=377 [bare URL PDF]
  14. ^ "FMFM 6-3 Marine Infantry Battalion".
  15. ^ "FM 23-24 M47 Dragon".
  16. ^ https://www.bits.de/NRANEU/others/amd-us-archive/fm_90-10%2879%29.pdf [bare URL PDF]
  17. ^ http://www.bits.de/NRANEU/others/amd-us-archive/FM90-10-1C1%2895%29.pdf [bare URL PDF]
  18. ^ "Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1991: Hearings Before the Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate, One Hundred First Congress, Second Session, on S. 2884". 1990.
  19. ^ "Department of Defense Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1989: Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, United States Senate, One Hundredth Congress, Second Session, on H.R. 4781". 1988.
  20. ^ "Department of Defense Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1989: Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, United States Senate, One Hundredth Congress, Second Session, on H.R. 4781". 1988.
  21. ^ "Department of Defense Appropriations for 1990: Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives, One Hundred First Congress, First Session". 1989.
  22. ^ https://books.googleusercontent.com/books/content?req=AKW5QafD97rfz47WvmzgtW0blFY3HGyjAs88VcZTIrgoR7cflZiVdVXveYWZU-ef_VbsuSbkqQWKJExVGaW0xQR6FkmRXPoAPb0cKN3qIGdZKAEXiinXqVRPcxf-kbFViApaUca_llC__VH9r60kqkvvC58-GKmT5sNn8UyTZPNnF2Z591aslAtEOGWiO5UMExtmYTYyWqqz5drGxzuZd6e9ctIB2mHturZESK22wktfUnv_ECuvl8ztgeAIBOAwdbebL6MCRgnRXKsfNnWZ7BOf5rR0XRYn6z13yExye8hHgqjh3FmJOrI [dead link]
  23. ^ Riad Kahwaji (20 August 2006). "Arab States Eye Better Spec Ops, Missiles". Ocus.net. Archived from the original on 27 February 2009. Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ "Iraq is Flooded with Iranian Weapons". 18 January 2024.
  26. ^ https://ptsm.edu.pl/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/jaroslaw-jarzabek.pdf
  27. ^ "Common ATGMs in the Syrian Civil War". Medium. 17 August 2016. Archived from the original on 26 March 2018.
  28. ^ "Javelin Block 0". www.deagel.com.
  29. ^ "Jordan – Javelin Guided Missile Systems" (PDF). Defense Security Cooperation Agency. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 May 2013. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  30. ^ a b "Spike Anti-Armour Missile Systems, Israel". Army Technology. Archived from the original on 27 January 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2009.
  31. ^ "PAL-System wird nach dreissig Jahren Einsatz liquidiert". Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports. 23 October 2007. Archived from the original on 21 January 2016. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  32. ^ "Trade Registers". armstrade.sipri.org. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
  33. ^ "From Worst to First: How the Javelin Saved America's Anti-Tank Arsenal". 8 October 2021.
  34. ^ Mitzer, Stijn; Oliemans, Joost (25 September 2019). "List of Iranian Arms and Equipment Supplied to Houthi Militants in Yemen since 2015". Oryx Blog.

External links[edit]