The Dragon Fire II provides rapid fire artillery support…
Firing mortars is a tricky business plagued with in accuracy. But, as the recent announcement of the GPS-guided AMPI precision mortar shows, the U.S. Military is working diligently to solve this problem.
Before GPS, one solution at the top of the cards was the deadly Dragon Fire II automated mortar system, developed by TDA Armaments and the US Marine Corps.
The Dragon Fire II utilizes a Mortar Fire Control System (MFCS) which comprises of electric actuators that automatically aim, load, and fire both rifled and smoothbore 120mm shells. It can also be operated manually in the event of electronic failure.
Dragon Fire II Rapid Fire Artillery System
Weighing in at 3,450 pounds, the Dragon Fire II cuts around half the weight of its predecessor; making it small enough to be carried by helicopters such as the CH-53 helicopters and MV-22 Osprey, or internally aboard amphibious assault craft.
On land the Dragon Fire II utilizes a custom modified Light Armor Vehicle, which allows for 360-degree coverage when on the move. The artillery system can also be towed behind a humvee or other military vehicles, sans the LAV.
The automated MFCS allows for extremely rapid response, a necessary requirement as mortar teams must constantly be on the move to avoid counter-fire. The average time from deployment to firing the Dragon Fire II is just one minute, compared to the eight minutes it usually takes to ready other systems.
The Dragon uses an advanced fire control system to calculate the firing data and can be networked together with one unit coordinating fire – allowing for complex firing and timing sequences.
With a maximum range of 8000+, the Dragon Fire II can strike within 15 meters of a target at a range of 5,600, firing 10 rounds per minute for two minutes, or four rounds per minute for longer periods of time. Firing at this rate, a 6-gun battery of Dragon Fires would be able to destroy a 440 x 805-meter area in less than four minutes.
Unfortunately the Dragon Fire has taking a backseat to make way for larger fire support systems such as the Army’s non-line-of-sight cannon – the only working model was put into storage in 2009, at Picatinny Arsenal. Nevertheless, some the Dragon Fire II’s brought some serious advancements to the table, and some of the technology, such as the advanced fire control, which is fully compatible with US Army Systems, are likely to show up in future versions of artillery support systems.