The SF Dragon is one of the most rarely seen of Shivan fighters. The Dragon is armed with five primary cannons, as well as a low-capacity secondary bank. Despite the small number of missiles it carries, it is very fast, maneuverable, and small, making it a very powerful adversary of any GTVA fighter. However, the Shivans make limited use of the Dragon, deploying them in small numbers in most cases. Still, even one wing of Dragons can cause serious trouble for any GTVA force if not dealt with properly.
The first Shivan fighter to have ever been captured by the Terrans and the Vasudans was a Dragon-class, designated Arjuna 1. Through the capture of this Shivan fighter, the joint Terran-Vasudan forces learned much about Shivan technology, especially fighter systems. Arjuna 1 was later used in a high-risk reconnaissance mission, shortly before the Destruction of Vasuda Prime.
| The SF Dragon
FS1 Tech Room Description
The Shivan Dragon is easily the most impressive fightercraft we have yet seen. Its maneuverability is unmatched, and it has quite a few other advantages, including a good top speed, powerful afterburners, and strong shields. It is the only Shivan fighter we have been able to study up close, and we have learned a great deal about Shivan engineering from it.
It seems that the Shivan shield systems are extremely strong, but their hulls are far weaker than our own. They also rely on primary weapons far more then secondaries, as evidenced by the Dragon's small capacity.
The GTA considers the Dragon as a Class A threat.
FS2 Tech Room Description
The Shivan fighter class SF Dragon is a fast, extremely agile craft. Its twin lasers pack a deadly punch. The Dragon's weakness seems to be a thin hull. The trouble is that their speed and maneuverability make them extremely difficult to hit.
Command Brief Animation
The Dragon's name derives from the mythical reptilian creature depicted in tales throughout the world.
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| The SF Dragon in FS2_Open with the mediavps enabled
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The Dragon is widely considered the best Shivan fighter ever (though my personal opinion leans towards the Mara in that regard). It is small, well-armed with lasers though deficient in secondary weaponry, quick, and insanely maneuverable. On higher difficulty levels the Dragon borders on unkillable, and even on lower ones it can be a surprisingly nasty opponent. If at all possible, destroy Dragons at range with missiles rather than getting into a dogfight. At easier levels, a one-on-one dogfight with a Dragon isn't really that hard, but is rather annoying, since it can take you about an entire 2 minutes just to beat one.
It is to be noted that the version of the Dragon you fly in FS1's Playing Judas is much, much weaker than the genuine article.
A nasty piece of work, to be sure, that'll rip you to ribbons if you're not careful. Best policy? Harpoon'em at range and try and keep your distance(!) as much as possible. Once in close contact, do not succumb to target fixation; the Dragon can keep you distracted from other dangers. The only real way to take one down at close range is to make exactly the right counter-turn at exactly the right time, then open fire. Try and get all your wingmates on one at a time; isolate and obliterate.
Extremely maneuverable. Target profile is extremely small and speed is rather high as well. Gunpoints for the second primary bank are oddly placed, but still manages to hit the target with little adjustment. The only real flaws are that Shivan primaries suck and that the sole secondary bank is minuscule.
The Dragon is, to be completely honest, that hard-to-reach itch. In a Herc II on Very Easy difficulty, even a single Dragon can be insanely difficult to hit. The Dragon would be pretty much like what the tech description of the Loki says; very little firepower, but with immense speed and maneuverability to dissuade pursuers. You could get all your wingmen to try and destroy it, but that would be impossible unless they're flying ships with very good maneuverability and speed like the Horus or Serapis.
This fighter is hell in space. My advice: don't bother dealing with them, your wingmen can do it better. Even in the best fighter you can fly, the Dragon is still faster and more maneuverable. They're kinda like little gnats flying around your head biting you all the time.
I've noticed in the campaign that the AI in the Dragon will actually shift energy between systems depending on what they're doing. For example, in Mystery of the Trinity, if you hang around to shoot some down (on Very Easy), the fighter you start shooting at and/or chasing will put extra power on shields and engines. The other fighters will put energy on guns and engines. If, in the middle of a chase, you quickly double back toward the main group, you can catch a couple of them with hardly any shields at all.
The Dragon can be real pain in escort missions. Its five cannons will decimate even cruisers without breaking a sweat, along with the escort wing. The fastest way to take them down is to make sure you have stronger missiles and primary capable of doing high shield damage. The trick is, that Dragon's orders are to attack the big vessel, making it approach in a straight line. They won't even notice you flown by, hanged up on their tail and locked your secondaries. Once this is done, fire your secondaries first, followed by primary fire. In ideal case, primary round will impact the shield just before the missiles, and the Dragon will be done in single hit.
The best, but a dangerous way to hit a Dragon with a slow, well-shielded fighter is to work like a 360-degree cannon. Slow down almost to a halt, use banking in the same direction to increase maneuverability. In this way, you can get a few of them in most heavier fighters and lighter bombers. Trying that against two wings of them when alone is suicide though...
If you manage to avoid attracting the attention of a Dragon you can kill it in one shot with a Phoenix V. Get behind one at a distance of about 500m and fire. It will take the fighter a few seconds to realize whats going and will explode nicely upon impact. I have a 60% success rate with this strategy at medium difficulty.
The Dragon is probably the most lethal hostile fighter you will ever encounter throughout the retail campaign. Although it can easily be killed and has a relatively smaller ammo capacity than most fighters, its immense maneuverability is most annoying. It will take practice to be able to hit it properly, as it can spin around like a lighting-quick mosquito, effortlessly evading primary and secondary shots. I would recommend that you try to be as close as possible to a Dragon (though not to close as not to frag yourself with your own weapons), then fire. Attacking from a distance will only cause it to spin about and start the frustrating cycle of a long dogfight.