M47 Dragon


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 service1975-1990s (US Army) 1975–2001 (US Marine Corps) 1979-present (other countries)
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
No. built7,000 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)
Length1,154 mm (45.4 in)
Diameter140 mm

Effective firing range65-1,000 meters
Maximum firing range1,000 meters (1,500 meters Dragon III)
WarheadHollow charge
Warhead weight3.5 lb (1.6 kg) Octol[7]

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.[8]

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.[9] 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

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 XM-47. In 1967, the XM-47 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 July 5, 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 US Army was complete. The US Army initially deployed the Dragon as a squad weapon, with every rifle squad containing an antiarmor specialist who carried the weapon.[10] Reorganization in the 1990s saw Dragons moved, with mechanized infantry received two launchers per squad.[11] 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.[12]

In USMC service the Dragon was concentrated in a Dragon missile platoon at the Battalion level, consisting of four assault sections each with four squads.[13]

Guidance system

The M47 Dragon uses a so-called "automatic remote control" (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 weighed 14.6 kilograms and was 744mm long in a 1154mm long launch tube.[14] The fairly basic warhead could penetrate 330mm of armor plate.[15][16]

Dragon II

A simple warhead upgrade, originally called "Dragon PIP" and officially known as MK1 MOD0. The Dragon II received a new warhead that offered an 85% increase in penetration, to about 600mm.[17] to about 610mm. Weight increased to 16.2 kilograms and length to 846mm. Dragon II entered service in 1988

Dragon III

A further improved Dragon II, the Dragon III received an even more powerful dual shaped charge[18] warhead, reportedly a Dragon II head with additional precursor charge.[19] 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.

The second final improvement was a new combined day/night tracker with laser guidance[20] Only the United States Marine Corps bought this variant, beginning in 1991,[21] while the Army opted to wait for Javelin to enter service.


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.[6] Hezbollah has acquired Saeghes for anti-tank and anti-armor uses.[22]

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. 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 also refer to a recon drone, a target drone, a fighter jet, 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

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

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.


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

Current operators

Former operators

See also


  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 c "M-47 DRAGON Anti-Tank Guided Missile". Federation of American Scientists. Archived from the original on 2008-12-24. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
  5. ^ "McDonnell Douglas/Raytheon FGM-77A (M-47) Dragon" (PDF). www.flightglobal.com. Flight International. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 25, 2018.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ https://archive.org/details/usmc-introduction-the-the-m-47-dragon-1987
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ https://www.army.mil/article/27423/admc_destroys_armys_last_dragon_missiles[bare URL]
  10. ^ https://archive.org/details/fm7880rifleplatoon
  11. ^ https://archive.org/details/fm77j93bradleyplatoon
  12. ^ https://www.marines.mil/Portals/1/Publications/FM%207-8%20W%20CH%201.pdf#page=377
  13. ^ https://archive.org/details/fmfm-6-3-78-marine-infanty-batalion
  14. ^ https://archive.org/details/fm-23-24-90-m-47-dragon
  15. ^ https://www.bits.de/NRANEU/others/amd-us-archive/fm_90-10%2879%29.pdf
  16. ^ http://www.bits.de/NRANEU/others/amd-us-archive/FM90-10-1C1%2895%29.pdf
  17. ^ "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.
  18. ^ "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.
  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 1990: Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives, One Hundred First Congress, First Session". 1989.
  21. ^ https://books.googleusercontent.com/books/content?req=AKW5QafD97rfz47WvmzgtW0blFY3HGyjAs88VcZTIrgoR7cflZiVdVXveYWZU-ef_VbsuSbkqQWKJExVGaW0xQR6FkmRXPoAPb0cKN3qIGdZKAEXiinXqVRPcxf-kbFViApaUca_llC__VH9r60kqkvvC58-GKmT5sNn8UyTZPNnF2Z591aslAtEOGWiO5UMExtmYTYyWqqz5drGxzuZd6e9ctIB2mHturZESK22wktfUnv_ECuvl8ztgeAIBOAwdbebL6MCRgnRXKsfNnWZ7BOf5rR0XRYn6z13yExye8hHgqjh3FmJOrI
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ a b "Spike Anti-Armour Missile Systems, Israel". Army Technology. Archived from the original on 2009-01-27. Retrieved 2009-01-20.
  25. ^ "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.
  26. ^ "Javelin Block 0". www.deagel.com.
  27. ^ "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

  • McDonnell-Douglas FGM-77 Dragon – Designation Systems
  • Comal citizen finds M47 Dragon missile launcher in the wood