Since 1997 the US Marine Corps Warfighting laboratory is experimenting the Dragon Fire, Expeditionary Fire Support System – a mortar based system that designed to provide mobile fire support for expeditionary forces. Dragon Fire I system demonstrator that utilized a 120mm rifled, recoiling, self-loading mortar, that can fire rifled or smoothbore ammunition. The original system had a weight of 7,000 pounds, but the new version, Dragon Fire II weighs only 3,200 pounds, and will be capable of deployment in a towed, heliborne and mounted versions.
Dragon Fire II is the follow-on experimentation phase of the program, which utilizes a towed by a tactical vehicle (such as the HUMMV) or internally mounted on a Light Armored Vehicle (LAV). The mortar has a range of 8,200 meters (13,000 m’ with rocket assisted projectiles). It can fire 10 rounds per minute for 2 minutes, or four rounds per minute sustained fire. The system has an on-board digital communications, navigation and computation facilities to enable effective precision fire at a closed “sensor-to-shooter” loop.
The USMC Warfighting Lab is also experimenting with remote control capability and stabilization that will enable fire on the move for improved agility and responsiveness. The system can be deployed from amphibious ships, internally, in CH-53 helicopters and MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. Dragon Fire II EFSS systems transitioned into a spiral acquisition with the award of the program to General Dynamics Ordnance & Tactical Systems (GD OTS) in October 2004. GD OTS is cooperating with TDA Armaments SAS, a joint venture between Thales and EADS Deutchland, to produce ammunition for these mortars.
Dragon Fire Experiment Background
• Developing Government-designed advanced artillery system for future combat
• First Dragon Fire designed by Army Armament
• Research Development and Engineering Command (ARDEC) Picatinny Arsenal and fabricated at Rock Island Arsenal in 1998
• World’s first automated towed artillery system: conducted first “sensor-to-shooter” fire missions
• New Dragon Fire II in design as potential Expeditionary Fire Support System (EFSS)