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The military of (insert nation here) has finished training its latest asset: an adult dragon. Let's call him Private Firestorm. He's got everything the top brass wants from a soldier: he's professional, loyal, skilled, follows orders to both the letter and the spirit and goes along with his fellow soldiers. Some of Private Firestorm's abilities include:

  • He is big and strong enough to carry a battle tank (or something of equivalent weight or size) in his arms while flying without becoming noticeably slower.
  • He is intelligent enough to understand orders and carry them out on the same level as a skilled soldier.
  • His scales make him immune to small arms fire, and only sustained fire from the largest of rounds (.50 cal) on a very small spot have any chance of hurting him.
  • He is able to carry things strapped to his underside by way of heavy-duty bands or cables.
  • The military developed communication gear that fits to his size; the gear is on the same level as that of a regular soldier.
  • He can shapeshift into a human, and aside from his eyes (which look the same as his dragon eyes) is indistinguishable from a regular human. When shapeshifting into this form he will be wearing whatever he was last wearing when in this form prior to turning back into a dragon. In this form he has physical capabilities like that of a similarly-sized human.
  • He can breathe fire, but not in his human form.
  • The military developed rations that are of extremly high calorie value, reducing the size of Private Firestorm's daily required nutrients to the size of a regular military ration.

Dragons are known in the world, but thus far no large scale military operation has taken place around them (because they're smart enough to not mess enough with humans to warrant this).

How would Private Firestorm likely be deployed into combat? As a front-line soldier? As a transport? As a support unit? As a member of a black ops team? Or as something else?

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    $\begingroup$ I want to put him in a breeding program, 'cause I assume he is a fully-functional human due to the "indistinguishable" clause... but, you want immediate military applications... $\endgroup$ – Malandy Jun 14 '15 at 18:21
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    $\begingroup$ Its flight speed will be much below that of aircraft, due to aerodynamics and the lack of jet engines. Being a very high value target, the enemy will prioritize its destruction, so unless kept far away from the battlefield, will be killed very soon by jet fighters and/or anti aircraft missiles. $\endgroup$ – vsz Jun 14 '15 at 21:30
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    $\begingroup$ If Dragons are smart enough to not mess around with humans... do you want to trust the one that's not smart enough to know that? $\endgroup$ – WernerCD Jun 15 '15 at 12:16
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    $\begingroup$ He can carry things in his human form, that effectively disappear when he's transformed into a dragon. Is the reverse true? Imagine a guy driving up next to a military base, and then transforming into a dragon with a tank strapped to its chest. $\endgroup$ – Joe White Jun 15 '15 at 13:19
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    $\begingroup$ Use him in recruitment videos. $\endgroup$ – Oldcat Jun 16 '15 at 0:54

14 Answers 14

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All of his other abilities are dwarfed by the "shapeshift into a human" option, which would make him an invaluable weapon for surprise attacks and assassinations.

Even if his dragon form isn't tremendously powerful in combat, it doesn't need to be as long as the enemy isn't actually expecting a shapeshifter. Modern physical security is largely based around preventing insurgents or enemies from bringing a weapon close enough to harm a VIP, and follows in rough concentric circles: you can't bring your strategic bomber into the country at any time, you can't bring your light aircraft into the city when the VIP is there, you can't bring your car into the city block when it's closed off for Big Event, and you can't enter the building where the speech is happening if you set off a metal detector (etc.).

Being able to physically transform into a dragon lets the soldier skip over several of these layers of security. He can get into the hypothetical square with a thousand other citizens to cheer and wave placards or whatever, or past an airport's metal detectors and into the supposedly secure zone, and suddenly pull a weapon equivalent to a light fighter aircraft out of his pocket, long past the "ring" where the local security forces can do anything about a weapon of that scale. He can then kill whomever he wants before disappearing again into the night, as all of the evidence is removed by the reverse transformation.

Technically this is similar in concept to the first time someone wore an explosive vest to an event, bringing a powerful explosive weapon within the "ring" people had assumed was limited to knives and handguns. But the scale and versatility of the dragon form as a weapon (flight, defence, ranged attack) make this far more disruptive - even ignoring the fact that in the real world, suicide bombers still do disrupt the "rings", because screening for them in public is mostly impractical.

This isn't limited to assassination (real-world militaries don't generally do that very much, since it messes with diplomacy), but it's the most obvious example of somewhere where the security depends on keeping heavier assailants at a distance (e.g. attacking a military base by getting up close then transforming might work, but military bases will have larger guns on-site that can attack him even if he's too fast for scrambled jets). Public sections of government buildings, for instance, may check for concealed handguns, but don't generally have a plan for what to do if someone gets a tank inside the secure area.

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    $\begingroup$ Do note that his eyes are distinctly non-human and are a dead giveaway for anyone looking Private Firestorm in the eyes. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Jacobs Jun 15 '15 at 10:05
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    $\begingroup$ @ThomasJacobs, contact lenses could be of use there. $\endgroup$ – PointlessSpike Jun 15 '15 at 11:01
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    $\begingroup$ @ThomasJacobs Make him wear a helmet or sunglasses, so nobody can look him in the eyes. $\endgroup$ – Bosoneando Jun 15 '15 at 11:02
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    $\begingroup$ We have a winner. He couldn't cope or keep up with modern military vehicles and aircraft but as a stealth special ops guy he could seriously screw things up for people. Get him on the tarmac of an air base...shred all the jets and then escape ...one of many examples. $\endgroup$ – James Jun 15 '15 at 18:11
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    $\begingroup$ The main issue with this is that it would be staggeringly hard to diplomatically cover up a dragon "unmorphing" as anything other than the US ordering an assassination. $\endgroup$ – deworde Jun 17 '15 at 8:19
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Logistic support

Boring as hell, but that's the most realistic option.

Most other uses are replaceable by other means. Why send a dragon on a special ops mission when highly trained operatives already exist that can do the job better and more quietly? If he's a private, then he's inexperienced, so he's potentially a liability in the field. Why use a dragon for assassinations when a UAV launching a missile can do the same job? As the first dragon, he's a propaganda asset. Which means you really don't want him to get killed.

There is exactly one thing he can do, however, that cannot be replicated by current technology, and won't put him in too much danger:

He is big and strong enough to carry a battle tank (or something of equivalent weight or size) in his arms while flying without being notably slowed down.

A C130 Hercules transport can only carry 20 tons. A Chinook can only carry a lousy 15 tons. An Abrams is about 60 tons. He can carry that, in his arms without being slowed? That means he can carry maybe 2-3x more with a suitably designed harness, moving slowly?

You've got a super-heavy lifter that can operate without an airstrip. That's a pretty big deal. You can drop in full armoured units in, whereas previously you can only get in by ship at a port, or the long way by land. Oh and you only need to feed this guy normal sized rations? Hell yes.

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    $\begingroup$ Amateurs study tactics. Professionals study logistics. $\endgroup$ – user4239 Jun 15 '15 at 20:29
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    $\begingroup$ Does the "stash" work both ways? If he was carrying a battle tank while he turned into a man, will the tank be stashed away to reappear when he changes back? (He can "wear" anything he can carry, by adding straps) $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Jun 15 '15 at 20:51
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    $\begingroup$ A C-17 Globemaster can support a payload of 85 tons, and the heaviest M1 Abrams (M1A2SEP) is 70 tons. Transporting a MBT via air is possible, however a very large runway would be required to support the weight and distance - i.e. you couldn't land anywhere. A VTOL transport, such as the dragon, would still be superior than a C-17, nevermind the fact that it could transport twice that of a C-17. $\endgroup$ – zamnuts Jun 16 '15 at 18:37
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    $\begingroup$ Assuming that he is VTOL when fully loaded -- ever seen a swan taking off? $\endgroup$ – Steve Jessop Jun 17 '15 at 11:25
  • $\begingroup$ And he presumably has a significantly-reduced logistics tail to boot! All he needs are these piddly rations? Score. Though, he might see most use replacing special forces' logistics support. He's probably more reliable, can carry an arbitrary amount of stuff, and can hang out with them disguised as a human (which is difficult for an H-60 to do). $\endgroup$ – fectin Feb 9 '17 at 16:15
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Science.

Well, a big tough lizard is cool, but shapeshifting should break the law of conservation of mass, creature of this size shouldn't be able to fly, and so on. Studying such a creature would likely lead to breakthrough in fundamental physics, and this would allow creation of new, incredible, weapons. Manipulation of mass, manipulation of gravity - these things are way more valuable than "one guy that can shapeshift and fly with a tank".

To waste such a precious creature on combat activities, you should have a very desperate army, or an army without any researchers (rebels, maybe?), or maybe the dragon itself wants to fight but doesn't want to be studied.

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    $\begingroup$ Ethically, it seems to me that the dragon should be treated with the same respect as his fellow human soldiers. As a result, running such a scientific exploration either requires the dragon's full cooperation and buy-in or is very evil. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Jun 15 '15 at 18:34
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    $\begingroup$ You still wouldn't send him to the front lines. Since he is in the military already, you can order him to undergo some testing without subjecting him to evil tests $\endgroup$ – rotard Jun 15 '15 at 22:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Kevin, since the dragon is so loyal, he will render himself to tests for the good of the country. $\endgroup$ – Turion Jun 16 '15 at 17:33
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    $\begingroup$ I really doubt any government would miss an opportunity to advance in arms race only because some guy/dragon objects to being studied. "-Mister Top-General, we have a guy who breaks the laws of physics, we could investigate it and, in 10-20 years, develop a technology for uber-blackhole-bombs, but he prefers to fly around carrying tanks." "-Okay, let him be." $\endgroup$ – user8808 Jun 17 '15 at 9:05
  • $\begingroup$ Well, if they wanted, and were ethically dubious enough to do that, they might as well kidnap a dragon child and experiment at some secret base somewhere. Not train up a dragon soldier. $\endgroup$ – Fhnuzoag Jun 17 '15 at 13:17
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TL;DR: Anyway the military wants to deploy him, but watch out for anti-aircraft methods.

In today's environment, the biggest challenge to a dragon as you describe would be anything with significant range. If we assume the dragon has decent natural armor (scales and whatnot), then small arms are more of an annoyance. He'll need to be wary of rocket propelled grenades, anti-aircraft artillery, and aircraft, basically all the things modern aircraft have to concern themselves with avoiding, only he won't be as able to counter them.

On an open battlefield, he can be deployed as part of the shock troops. In this case, the shock being the "Aaahhhhh! Dragon!!!" factor from the opposing troops as well as the physical shock of him landing. Or drops a tank on someone. He can roast opposing soldiers and damage tanks and artillery with his breath (melt, if hot enough).

He makes a good reconnaissance unit as well. Flying predators have some of the best eyesight on the planet, so we can safely assume a dragon is going to have impeccable vision and can identify and distinguish targets at a phenomenal distance. Since he has communication equipment, the dragon can radio troops on the ground, aircraft on approach, the command post, or even ships.

Your dragon can also do rescue missions. The fear factor of a fire-breathing dragon hovering above you would be high. Ground troops attempting to raid a building would think twice while the dragon is perched on top or circling.

His size will play against him in one role I can think: urban combat. A dragon's greatest strength is flight, but door-to-door combat excludes flight as a possibility. He'll be vulnerable to ambushes. That being said, he would make a great ally when it comes to emptying a building of hostile forces. He just looks in a window and exhales.

All being said, the dragon you describe can be deployed as any role you want. However, such an entity would be considered a nontrivial asset. If you only have one, you would want to protect it from destruction. It's the same kind of issue the U.S. has with the B-2 Spirit in that it costs so much to build that they really invested in not losing it.

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't think the dragon would be immensely useful when airborne, unless you fight under-equipped/low-tech enemies. Because of it's lack of speed it would be very easy to take him down using any kind of anti-aircraft weapon: RPGs, Stinger, etc. would be a real danger. And a CIWS would just shred him to pieces before he even got sight of the target. $\endgroup$ – fgysin Nov 17 '15 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ @fgysin Which is exactly what I pointed out in the first paragraph. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Nov 17 '15 at 16:04
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Propaganda

Since he is not invulnerable, he can be and will be destroyed by the enemy in a confrontation. Heavy weapons are absolutely not rare in the field, missiles and precision-guided bombs can pretty much hit anything, and these are usually designed against armored targets. His wings ought to be less protected than the scaly body, offer significantly greater surface to attack and if his wings are damaged during flight, the resulting fall would likely kill or disable him, at least for long enough to give the attackers a chance for another attack.

Though you did not define the range or power of fire breath, I assume it does not work against armor. His flight speed is also not specified, just assumed to be slower than a fighter jet. These two severely hinder his fighting abilities against pretty much anything except infantry, light vehicles and non-fortified installations. Bombing might be an option, but anti-aircraft fire would be very effective due to his (assumed) slow flight speed.

But he has a very strong asset: Psychology. His size and form makes people think him stronger and more dangerous than he really is (as established in the previous section). This makes friendly soldiers to appreciate his presence and support, just knowing that there is a freakin' dragon on their side makes them much more brave.

This also works in inverse, enemy soldiers would much less like to attack any object when there is a non-zero chance of encountering a freakin' dragon there.

He must have also cost the military huge amounts of money, since he needs unique, one-off equipment specially designed and developed for him (like the comm gear and the rations).

Putting the above together, you have a singular soldier that represents enormous investment, has significant but not overwhelming combat value, while providing a huge morale boost for friendly forces and reducing enemy morale.

...

Just like Captain America

(at least in the movie, I'm not familiar with the comic variant)

So I'd guess the military would use him exactly like they did with Steve Rogers, send him on tours along the training fields and frontline troops to bolster their morales, create short movie clips to show allies, citizens and enemies alike in order to establish the thought of military superiority.

Of course, the enemy would make it a top priority to hunt him down to remove this asset from our team and to be able to boast with killing a freakin' dragon. The more intelligent enemies would perhaps like to learn some of the secrets required to have one of their own.

They would send spies to try to convert him, telling about the real or imaginary evildoings of our team, or just plainly inciting him to stop acting in movies while watching his comrades and bodyguards die in real combat and the repeated assasination attempts, but take matters in his own claws and venture out to the battlefield disobeying orders where they have set up a trap for him.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm cringing at the thought of them doing to him what the US did to Rogers. $\endgroup$ – PointlessSpike Jun 15 '15 at 11:06
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    $\begingroup$ @PointlessSpike That was my intention, to describe a situation that has many potential branching points. Does he obey and repress his morality? Does he revolt, run away and have the army find him and force his return? Does an enemy spy convince him that he was on the wrong side? IMHO this setup has much more story potential than a contently employed invincible killing machine :) $\endgroup$ – zovits Jun 15 '15 at 11:11
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    $\begingroup$ Personally I'd focus more on the gap between his adoptive culture and his own people. Maybe he gets tired of killing for people he'll never really fit in with. Even in human form, anyone around him (and I doubt the military would let him out of their sight, so there would always be people who know what he is) people would be afraid of him. $\endgroup$ – PointlessSpike Jun 15 '15 at 11:21
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    $\begingroup$ And now I imagine a dragon punching Hitler in the face. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Jacobs Jun 15 '15 at 11:22
  • $\begingroup$ @PointlessSpike OP stated that he "goes along with his fellow soldiers", so I guess they won't be afraid of him. Certainly they won't pull any pranks on him either, but if he's "professional, loyal, skilled, follows orders to both the letter and the spirit", then I don't imagine another private fearing him more than fearing an artillery shell (both can kill you if you don't respect them and do stupid things to them). The culture is a good idea, we don't know anything about his origins (are there more dragons at all?), so this part is a blank canvas. $\endgroup$ – zovits Jun 15 '15 at 11:28
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No question: Special Ops.

For working with local resistance units, he would be enormously reassuring, as long as religious objections don't make him The Devil.

For LRRPs (Long Range Reconnaisance Patrols), he has the ability both to destroy enemy forces who stumble across the patrol and he provides instant extraction if the situation goes pear-shaped. Everybody on the team carries a harness and line to hook on to him once he shifts. An MBT runs, typically, in the range of 60 to 70 tons, so he can carry a large team.

For raids, he provides the "Aaah! Dragon!" factor that Frostfyre mentions, enormous distraction value as the rest of the team scurries around attaching demo charges to points of interest, and (once again) extraction capability. Plus, he can do all sorts of damage all on his own, between setting things on fire and throwing heavy equipment around and breaking it.

What he's not suitable for is conventional assaults. If he tries that, he's going to run into anti-tank missiles sooner rather than later, and if a .50 cal round can hurt him you don't want to think about what a shaped-charge warhead will do.

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    $\begingroup$ Since he can carry a tank and apparently store it outside of current space, he could pick one up (or an APC or whatever else you want) transform into a human to "hide" it, then HALO drop into whatever hot spot exists and then transform back into a dragon with instantaneous heavy weaponry for backup. $\endgroup$ – Mordred Jun 15 '15 at 16:04
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Sell him.

As he is a loyal soldier, he'll do his duty even if it is "go chill in this zoo or with this trillionaire.

Use that money to buy multiple planes, which are faster, better armed, and armoured.

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  • $\begingroup$ I was about to downvote… then I realised this does make some sense, actually. I'm thinking about it. $\endgroup$ – o0'. Jun 15 '15 at 22:17
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    $\begingroup$ You would betray a dragon? You are either very brave, or very foolish. $\endgroup$ – Zibbobz Jun 17 '15 at 17:08
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe "rent" him as private security/coolness factor to the wealthy for special events. Some consideration for the government could get him assigned to the security detail for your cocktail party. $\endgroup$ – Josiah Jun 17 '15 at 18:02
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    $\begingroup$ How much is a dragon worth? A billion? You can't buy a lot of good planes with that kind of money. $\endgroup$ – Muz Jun 30 '15 at 13:56
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When shapeshifting into this form he will be wearing whatever he was last wearing when in this form prior to turning back into a dragon. In this form he has physical capabilities like that of a similarly-sized human.

That offers a novel capability. What he's carrying essentially gets stashed outside of reality, to be retrieved when he shapeshifts again.

This could be used as a stealth mechanism to smuggle items or otherwise transport goods unobserved, or a storage mechanism: the "man" could carry, say, medical gear or delecate instruments, and they are out of danger during fighting.

That can also smuggle "top secret" information or artifacts— say, he has new code books or Enigma wheels in his coat pocket. Not only is the dragon form good for transporting them, but if captured or subdued the secret items will not be found.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think smuggling would be quite hard: "He can shapeshift into a human, and aside from his eyes (which look the same as his dragon eyes) is indistinguishable from a regular human." $\endgroup$ – zovits Jun 15 '15 at 13:35
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    $\begingroup$ @zovits - Contacts? $\endgroup$ – Malandy Jun 15 '15 at 18:42
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    $\begingroup$ @zovits - Sunglasses? $\endgroup$ – Ayelis Jun 15 '15 at 19:14
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    $\begingroup$ @JDługosz - How about the ability to smuggle in a freakin' dragon? ;) $\endgroup$ – Ayelis Jun 15 '15 at 19:14
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    $\begingroup$ @zovits it doesn't matter what he looks like as a man, or even that the alternate form is a man. Everything he was wearing/holding is stashed away outside reality: that's the thing I wanted to draw attention to. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Jun 15 '15 at 20:48
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Let's address each of your bullet points one at a time:

  • He is big and strong enough to carry a battle tank (or something of equivalent weight or size) in his arms while flying without being notably slowed down.

This would make him a great asset for transport, but only in a drop-off sense, since there's only one of him. It also means he can wear armor and carry significant additions in firepower, so that means upgrades are a possibility. Picture a dragon covered head-to-toe in tank armor, with a mounted turret or ICBM on his back manned by another (brave) soldier. And no, the armor isn't superfluous if it can help him withstand heavy artillery fire or ballistic attacks.

  • He is intelligent enough to understand orders and carry them out on the same level as a skilled soldier.

This greatly improves his capabilities on the battlefield - not only can he be a transport, he can be a well-defended scout with his own escape plan, assuming he can be trained in camouflage. He doesn't have to outrun interceptors - he just needs to know when they're coming, land, and find someplace to hide (much easier with his human transformation below).

  • His scales make him immune to small arms fire, and only sustained fire from the largest of rounds (.50 cal) on a very small spot have any chance of hurting him.

This would make him a very capable shock troop for regular combat - essentially he'd be his own tank. It would also make him invaluable for raiding key locations, where he's less likely to run into encampments or vehicles that could pierce his armor plating.

  • He is able to carry things strapped to his underside by way of heavy-duty bands or cables.

Again, troop or tank transport. Also makes the possibility of using him as a mobile artillery or missile launching point more viable.

  • The military developed communication gear that fits to his size; the gear is on the same level as that of a regular soldier.

Assuming he can talk, this greatly boosts his potential as a recon tool. It also means he can receive orders and warnings from local radar systems, letting him know when a genuine threat (like an attack fighter or a tank) is coming his way.

  • He can shapeshift into a human, and aside from his eyes (which look the same as his dragon eyes) is indistinguishable from a regular human. When shapeshifting into this form he will be wearing whatever he was last wearing when in this form prior to turning back into a dragon. In this form he has physical capabilities like that of a similarly-sized human.

If he can transform such that what he's carrying as a dragon is still on him as a human, that'd be insane, but also insanely useful for transporting large hardware without having to use up much space. Even without that, being able to make himself much smaller means making himself a much easier target to hide if he runs into trouble, and with a pair of shades he'll be able to infiltrate places more easily without being detected, making him a potential assassination or infiltration tool.

  • He can breathe fire, but not in his human form.

Unfortunately, other than upping his value as a shock troop and possibly posing a distraction for anti-dragon aircraft, this doesn't improve his capabilities much. Unless the fire is hot enough to seriously damage aircraft. If it is - handy way of ambushing an aircraft.

  • The military developed rations that are of extremly high calorie value, reducing the size of Private Firestorm's daily required nutrients to the size of a regular military ration.

Which is good, because otherwise the upkeep on him would be insane.

And as others have noted, you could also use him for...

Morale/Recruitment

A dragon is very recognizable, and very cool. It'd definitely boost any troop's morale to know a dragon is on their side, and would make for an excellent image in a propaganda poster.

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  • He is big and strong enough to carry a battle tank (or something of equivalent weight or size) in his arms while flying without being
    notably slowed down.

A dragon that can carry even a WWII sized tank in the manner which you state is going to be huge. We are talking as big as a large airship(think Hindenburg.) It is one thing to have the strength to pick it up from the ground, it is another to have the strength and power to fly with this as though it were nothing. A more realistic statement would be that the dragon can take several soldiers with equipment with out hinderence, and some light vehicles with effort.

  • He is intelligent enough to understand orders and carry them out on the same level as a skilled soldier.

Typically dragons have been shown as arrogant and would be unwilling to subject themselves as common soldiers for any length of time. A large par of training is the drilling of technique and process so that in combat soldiers can be counted on to react predictably. This type of training is monotonous and designed to break and then reform a human spirit. In order for this to work on dragons you are probably going to have to have a dragon cadre for training. Dragons are more likely to learn and subordinate their urges if they are being lead by other dragons.

  • His scales make him immune to small arms fire, and only sustained fire from the largest of rounds (.50 cal) on a very small spot have any chance of hurting him.

I would assume you mean that his scales make him resistant to small arms fire. He is also going to be resistant to shrapnel and small explosions. Most dragon legends also make them immune to fire (able to swim in lava). It is not the size of the bullet that is dangerous to the dragon but the energy potential it carries. A small caliber bullet that has been propelled at a high rate of speed can do as much and often more than a larger bullet at the same speed.

There are in development now mass projection weapons(rail guns). These use energy to propel small bullets extremely fast. They are impractical in today's military because their is no real target that needs them. Tanks are vulnerable to explosive ordinance that the dragon is going to be resistant too. If we had this type of enemy then I can see these types of weapons being developed faster and being deployed in defense.

  • He is able to carry things strapped to his underside by way of heavy-duty bands or cables.

This is probably going to be less efficient and impractical when compared to modern heavy lift helicopter capabilities. This is going to be limited to use in special operations where the flexibility of the dragon soldier makes it more practical.

  • He can shapeshift into a human, and aside from his eyes (which look the same as his dragon eyes) is indistinguishable from a regular human. When shapeshifting into this form he will be wearing whatever he was last wearing when in this form prior to turning back into a dragon. In this form he has physical capabilities like that of a similarly-sized human.

This is his strongest ability. He can train and interact with human soldiers and would be a huge asset in a special operations unit. Especially if his resistance to fire and weapons extends to his human form.

  • He can breathe fire, but not in his human form.

A great shock weapon but less useful than one might think unless the goal is the complete destruction of a target. A more realistic use is to cover a retreat or extraction. Humans steer clear of fire so a well placed breath of fire that blocks a chase path is going to be more useful than setting the first few chasers on fire.

  • The military developed rations that are of extremely high calorie value, reducing the size of Private Firestorm's daily required nutrients to the size of a regular military ration.

Having the field rations is great, but one thing I remember from my time in the military is that extended periods on field rations takes a huge toll on morale. Hot meals and real food are as important to a soldier as good boots and a functional weapon. So to keep your dragon units effective you would need to be able to provide a regular supply of a satisfying meal for the dragons. The larger the dragons are the more food you are going to need to provide them.

Modern technology and weapons have rendered most of the standard dragon's advantages moot. So the dragons role is going to be mostly limited to special operations. But as a super special operator the dragon could excel.

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Breeding Program.

Assumptions: Firestorm cooperates... and disregarding bio-compatability and ethics.

If you put Firestorm in a breeding program then you get more Dragons after... let's say... 12 years. Yes, child soldiers, but we're disregarding ethics here.

Then, you reinsert your New Dragons into the breeding program.

With the average conception chance, 20-25% a month, spread out over, 1000 women? The chance of no Dragon Babies is around 10 to the -100th power... A very small chance.

So, after a few decades, the country could be around 75% Dragon?

That is, assuming that the other Dragons don't notice and shut the program down... but then again it's a Black Project, done in underground bunkers, and all that secrecy stuff.

And modern military weaponry can easily handle even a torrent of Dragons...

Also, the sperm donations wouldn't impact his "shape-shift into a human" abilities, so he's still a viable combat unit while participating in this program.

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    $\begingroup$ The other dragons would have a hard time shutting the project down. As other answers have noted, modern military hardware is quite capable of shooting down this sort of dragon. $\endgroup$ – Brilliand Jun 16 '15 at 21:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Brilliand - So, do you think that... wait... Country Size changes how much artillery you can field... that has impact on ability to defeat X Dragons, so... is the country large enough to handle X = 'All Dragons in this World' ?? ... Or exterminate Dragons before starting project? $\endgroup$ – Malandy Jun 16 '15 at 23:18
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I was imagining the U.S. military. Smaller countries might indeed not be able to fight off the dragons. I don't think exterminating the dragons in advance would work, since genocide is pretty hard to pull off, but a preemptive strike to kill a percentage of the dragons might make a big difference if war is certain anyway. (On the other hand, an unprovoked attack on the dragons might draw the ire of other countries that normally wouldn't interfere.) $\endgroup$ – Brilliand Jun 17 '15 at 18:15
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I'm quite surprised at the assumptions people have made here. When I imagine a dragon breathing fire, I imagine the plasma-blasts of a Night Fury or the flammable saliva of a Monstrous Nightmare (species of dragon from the How To Train Your Dragon movies by DreamWorks).

With that kind of firepower, Private Firestorm's fire becomes a little more useful - he can replace a small missile or napalm. If his saliva is flammable (one of the most realistic mechanisms for dragon fire), they could simply take it from his mouth and use it in other weapons.

Also, people have said a dragon of that size would be hard to conceal - what colour is he? Dragons are nearly always depicted as predators, so presumably he has natural camouflage. Perhaps he can even change colour.

Also, being a predator would make Private Firestorm an excellent assassin (even if dragons don't hunt by stealth, he could at least be a hitman).

He could also be used in diplomatic proceedings. No matter how tough a politician is, they are going to be off their game if they know the man they're talking to can turn into a dragon as large as a cargo plane. Not to mention the eyes - they would freak everyone out.

due his inability to take damage from anything more powerful than small firearms, Private Firestorm can't simply be used as a wrecking machine on the battle-field (except perhaps against the army of an LEDC, as they would not have as many/as advanced weapons.)

Private firestorm can be used for transport (away from the danger zone), negotiation (face-to-face) and as a secret weapon against poorly-equipped armies.

Perhaps the most effective use of a shapeshifting dragon would be to deploy him as a normal soldier, in human form, and keep the dragon part secret from the enemy. And when the SHTF, he can turn back to dragon form and wreak havoc. This would boost his fellow soldiers morale and crush the enemies morale (the survivors would come back gibbering).

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In direct combat the private isn't that useful, not in modern day. We have weapons far more devastating then what his scales can protect against that can fire from far away and out maneuver him. In a fight against a fighter jet or any of our big weapons of war he simply goes splat too quickly to be more then a brief tactical surprise. He's pretty strong to infantry, but modern wars are decided less and less by infantry then by big expensive guns that overpower him.

Leushenko answer is great and close to what I would have answered, his ability to hide as a human and thus 'sneak' in pretty massive fire power where it's least expected is powerful. It's less about raw power, more about being able to extend it to places your enemy does not expect and would not allow it. It's also important that he can do it in a way that the enemy doesn't have time to get any of their big guns, like fighter jets, to him before he disappears again.

However, the answer didn't go in to how fully to exploit that power, other then assassination which it mentioned was usually politically less advisable. Actually assassination of semi-important figures may still be a good option. You can't assassinate the head of state, but taking out some of it's high ranking military officers is only going to cause a bit of political difficulty, the tactical advantage of taking out those leaders can be worth it. For that mater taking out lower ranking logistical or leaders at any front right before a major offensive would be useful and generally considered 'fair game', though most of them will be in bases and as said before bases tend to have fighters and other weapons of war near by, making it a risky play since you may not have time to get away safely before they can get their stronger weapons readied to use against you.

However, All the above is just an example of a more general concept, guerilla warfare. Guerilla warfare is probably one of the hardest types of wars to fight, the US had massive technological, numeric, and logistical superiority over Iraq when it invaded, it still left years later with a decent number of lives lost and no real headway because guerillas just couldn't be killed. However, the one limit to guerilla warfare is that they can't get any big guns, their limited to small arms and occasionally small explosives, enough to kill people but not enough to do much major damage to the military weapons.

Private firestorm is different. He is able to do guerilla warfare, as a person he can disappear at any time into a crowed, but he also brings big enough fire power to destroy whatever he chooses to. He can be a threat to larger military hardware, with far less risk then regular guerilla operatives, then disappear back into a crowed.

In any place where infantry is used heavily, which now of days is usually to control areas with civilians like cities, he is very powerful. He can crush military solders and fade away. So long as he makes sure to always pick a place where he can attack and kill fast then get away back into a crowed before the fighter jets and tanks can reach him he is pretty safe. He can single-handedly stop military occupation of any area he is at, and if he picks his targets right could probably strike at lone higher value targets like tanks, jeeps, supply conveys etc, to score larger victories. In fact after awhile he becomes a terror weapon that works just by scaring the soldiers into never going anywhere because at any moment a fire breath instrument of death may show up to crush them.

Of course when he starts this tactic three counter-tactics come up.

  1. Start looking with the guy with strange eyes. This...won't work as well. There are too many people, and too many easy ways to hide his eyes to make it practical to find him in any decent crowed of people. Plus, if infantry find him he can always go dragon, crush them, then fly away and hide again; so long as there isn't a larger weapon at war beside the infantry men who ask to see his eyes he's still somewhat safe; and do you really see solders being suicidal enough to insist on trying to identify someone that will kill them if they succeed and then likely get away with it?
  2. Start creating a better system for tracking him when he flies away, using small drones, satellites, and quick responders you can probably manage a system of tracking him in dragon mode and seeing exactly where he 'goes human' and getting both infantry, to deal with screening humans to find the dragon, and larger weapons like fighters to that area quickly. Modern military can use this tactic to make it far more dangerous for him to go dragon anywhere due to the difficulty of loosing his trackers long enough to disappear into the crowed.
  3. Start arming people with the means to deal with him. Keep fighters and tanks at hand when your doing operations the dragon would likely want to interrupt. More importantly, arm your solders with explosives that can take out a dragon, enough people carry hidden RPGs and your dragon's going to start to be in danger even from 'easy' victims.

However, option 2 and 3 can be fixed easily enough, keep him on the move. Put him in a situation to attack a few people at location A, then hope him on a truck and drive him to a front on the other side of your country to do the same thing there tomorrow. With rapid transportation he can move around a massive area. With such a huge front to attack from it's no longer practical to try to arm everyone with weapons, or surveillance, equipment to deal with him.

Combine with that picking areas of opportunity well and you have a pretty lethal combination. Take out the few guards on a Dam over here and you can threaten an area with liquidy death. Destroy the power lines and generators over another town and leave the base blind and unready to deal with your infantry front. He can be pretty disruptive, though it takes a pretty extensive logistics to figure out where he should be traveling, and some of this can be done by smaller elite cells almost as well as he would do.

But there is one step better, move him away from the front lines entirely, send him on a counter offensive. Have him travel to your enemy countries home; surely you can figure out some way to sneak one operative past their boarders; or just have him bust his way in through a border somewhere and then hide.

Once inside the territory he is actually quite safe. Past their front lines they won't have the big weapons of war, the things capable of killing him, so there aren't many things that are a major threat to him; other then being spotted and tracked so well then he can't lose (or destroy) his trackers in the time it takes to fly a fighter from a base a ways away from him (and even then, the enemy is going to be apprehensive firing missiles at a dragon flying right above a crowded city of their own civilians...

Now if your evil you can start a terrorism campaign that would be very effective, but at that point assassination is an option to you and well...your be pretty effective until every nation declares war on you. (though...if you arrange to say he is awol terrorist and not supported by your nation perhaps you can get away with some of it).

However, even if your not evil you still have targets to attack. The military already agrees that there are strategic targets that are fair game for attacks even in civilian areas. Any place that manufactures weapons of war will be a valid target, for example. Power plants I believe can be, training grounds if you find any that aren't too defended by bases with fighters, etc. He can simply drive around the nation, attacking completely random strategic infrastructure locations at seemingly random. Make sure to never stay in one place for any length of time, and to always have a plan for how to 'go human' and get away quickly before helicopters can be set up to start following you (if you are followed by helicopters he can destroy them, but since they would be civilian police it's getting to be a little more diplomatically grey; best to take them out without killing fliers when possible).

The only thing he really needs is sufficient source of raw money to be able to buy bus tickets to get around. He needs to travel long distances between targets to keep everyone guessing, but that isn't to hard to do in a modern country.

He still has the danger of being tracked long enough that the police can get a jet to him. The biggest danger here is if he is tracked without realizing it, smaller drones he doesn't realize are following him. If he can't change his human appearance pictures of him will circulate after awhile, but he can hide his face and still get around pretty well, the country is just so huge that there are too many people he can disappear behind.

If he manages to keep this up long enough without being caught eventually the terror aspect will result in people afraid to work on building weapons of war because he may show up and destroy their building. That affect can do far more harm then his actual attacks do, it's all psychological. The important thing would be to make sure he attacked only strategically 'far' targets to keep the moral high ground of "were not terrorists, were just attacking valid targets with the weapon we have while trying to minimize civilian loss of life". He should try to minimize lost of life, important diplomatically, but he still works as massive psychological warfare even if he is doing that.

I can't say how many infrastructure buildings he can get to before someone manages to track him, but frankly it won't take many before he starts to really cripple the military infrastructure and force them to bring a disproportionately big part of their military back simply to assure their civilians that they have people ready to deal with the big scary threat.

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Here's a strategy: Have Private Firestorm fly above any enemy fortifications or castles. Then have him turn into a human. He will fall and land without hurting himself because he is super tough, even as a human.

When he lands on the fortification or castle, he needs to get to the center of the building or trench or whatever. The guards are too busy looking at the army in front of them that no one will notice. If they do, the Private has a smoke grenade to conceal himself.

Then, he turns back into a dragon. The massive increase in size will blow the walls of whatever structure he is in to smithereens. Then the Private turns to a human, gets to the top of the structure without resistance from the now-unconscious soldiers, turns into a dragon, and flies away.

Here is a similar technique used in Angry Birds:

angry bird

You can repeat this process for as many fortifications as the enemy has. Without any open fortifications, the enemy will have to either fight in an open field where the Private could mow them down, or all hide in a closed building with a ceiling and openings to fire from, the consequence with this being that the Private can destroy the ceiling, bringing it down on top of the enemy.

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protected by a CVn Jun 15 '15 at 7:20

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