The M47 Dragon is a crew-served, man-portable wire-guided SACLOS (semi-active command line of sight) missile launcher introduced in 1975 and used by the US military: while many remain in US Army and USMC stockpiles, it was officially withdrawn from service in 2001, having been replaced by the FGM-148 Javelin. It was developed by Raytheon and manufactured by Raytheon and McDonnell Douglas, replacing the M67 recoilless rifle.
The Dragon uses a similar guidance system to other period systems like the BGM-71 TOW, with the sight tracking a thermal beacon on the missile's tail to make course corrections and issuing commands to the missile via wires. It uses a similar soft-launch system with a smaller rocket engine propelling it clear of the launch tube, with a rather strange twist: instead of the missile achieving full flight speed using a main rocket engine and then gliding to the target using wings and steering fins, Dragon's missile lacks control surfaces entirely, with only small stabilising fins at the rear, and has no large second stage engine. It instead features thirty pairs of small rocket thrusters along the midsection which fire to both keep it in the air and correct its flight path, creating distinctive popping sounds every 1-5 seconds as it flies depending on how much it is required to manoeuvre. For safety, the warhead does not arm until the missile has travelled 65 metres: maximum range is 1,000 metres.
Like its successor the Javelin, the Dragon is a two-part system with a disposable encased missile and a re-usable sighting unit which is attached to the round prior to use. A tripod mount and vehicle mount were also available for a more stable firing platform. The standard missile uses a single-stage HEAT warhead rated as able to penetrate 8 feet of compacted earth, 4 feet of reinforced concrete, or 13 inches of rolled homogeneous steel.
Being a shoulder-fired system, Dragon had the problem that while there was no real recoil on firing, the soldier would suddenly be relieved of the weight of the 20-pound missile, which could throw the launcher violently off-target and cause the missile to ground itself: for this reason, Dragon was only supposed to be used with its supporting bipod deployed. It was not a well-liked weapon due to being difficult to use (like TOW, there is a short delay between pulling the trigger and the missile firing, which was much more problematic for Dragon) and the regular thruster firing making it impossible to not tell when one had been fired. Dragon's single-stage HEAT warhead was quickly rendered obsolete by developments in reactive armour, and by the time it was actually employed in combat in the Gulf War, it was considered a weapon of last resort.
The M47 Dragon has appeared in the following films and video games used by the following actors:
(1975 - 2001)
- Type: Guided missile launcher
- Caliber: 140mm
- Launch tube weight: M222 HEAT: 25.3 lbs (11.5 kg), MK 1 Mod 0 HEAT: 27.2 lbs (12.3 kg)
- Sight Weight: SU-36P Day Sight: 6.8 lbs (3.1 kg), AN/TAS-5 Night Sight: 21.6 lbs (9.8 kg)
- Length: 45.4 in (115.3 cm)
|Cherry 2000||Melanie Griffith||E Johnson||1988|
|GoldenEye||Mounted on ATV in Q lab||1995|
|Hot Shots! Part Deux||Ryan Stiles||Rabinowitz||Expended launch tube with no sight or bipod||1993|
|Predator 2||Seen in armory||1990|
|Show Title||Actor||Character||Note / Episode||Date|
|The X-Files - Season 4||FBI tactical agent||Carried out of militia compound / "Unrequited" (S4E16)||1997|
|Game Title||Appears as||Mods||Release Date|
|ArmA II: Operation Arrowhead||2010|
|Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker||Incorrectly shown being fired without using the bipod, as lock-on fire-and-forget weapon, and as fully disposable||2010|
|Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake||1990|
|Metal Gear Acid||2005|