Dragons are a late-game enemy that appears in Earth Defense Force 2025 and Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair. They are described as the "final form" of the giant insects of the series: it is not particularly clear how this is supposed to have come about.
Dragons are a powerful flying enemy that appear towards the final third of the game. They are usually spawned in mid-air at the map borders or the top of the skybox, though they are sometimes deployed from Large Transport Ships instead.
Normal dragons have two attacks. Their first is to spit superheated plasma as a spread of fireballs: the fireball attack combines the angle of a Hornet attack with the effect of an Ant's acid spray, throwing down a spread of fireballs which deal damage individually and increase in number as the difficultly level increases. Unlike most attacks, a Dragon's fire will deal damage to a character who has been knocked down and is on the ground, making them particularly dangerous in 2025 where classes do not have fast recovery moves.
If they are on the ground they cannot use this attack, and instead use their second, a charging bite like that of a Crimson Ant, with the same ability to grapple and do additional damage over time if they are not killed quickly. Dragons will take off after a while with their victim still in their mouth and fly around, making it harder for the grappled player character to aim at them or other players to assist them (even knockdowns will not make them drop their victim). If they do not have any suitable targets to charge at, they will take off again after a while.
While airborne, they attack by swooping down on the nearest EDF unit, spraying fireballs as they go. Unless they are targeting an enemy in mid-air, the long arc of this attack will almost always end up with the on the ground since they prefer near-vertical divebombing attacks.
Airborne Dragons are very vulnerable to low-damage homing weapons and the Air Raider's Wireguns, since they will either spin out or crash if they take any damage while flying. They also do not check for obstructions below them before commencing their diving attack; this can be exploited in maps with indestructible bridges by hiding underneath the bridge, which the Dragons will mostly land on top of.
In 4.1 all Dragons have less health, and deal less damage with their fire breath attack.
The first of two Mutant variants introduced in DLC2 for 2025, the Yellow Mutant is the only Mutant type which is actually weaker than the normal kind. While they are less durable and deal less damage, Yellow Mutants are slightly faster. They are also slightly smaller.
Their most notable appearance is in Whirlwind of Death, which features 270 Yellow Dragons in 2025 and 200 in 4.1, arranged into Galaxan-style waves.
In 4.1 Yellow Mutants will appear as part of regular spawns in the missions in the main storyline.
The Red Mutant is essentially the opposite of the Yellow; it is much more durable (about as tough as a Hector) and deals more damage, but is slower and larger. Despite its increased health, it is no harder to knock out of the air than a standard Dragon. However in 4.1 this is not the case, and it is more difficult to knock them out of the air, though some weapons (such as the Fenrir) still cause ridiculous knockback.
Greater Wild Dragon
Main article: Greater Wild Dragon
Similar to the Queen Ant, King Spider and Death Queen, the Greater Wild Dragon is the "boss" variant of Dragon. It is essentially a flying Queen Ant with similar damage-over-time spread attacks, this time fire breath rather than an acid spray, and is 2025's equivalent of the Vallak Dino Mech or Saurous, though 4.1 introduces the Erginus which is even closer to those creatures.
While the existence of a "final evolution" of the giant insects is foreshadowed as early as mission 20: Shining Stronghold, Dragons are first seen in mission 57: Bad Premonition (2025) (mission 60: Ill Omen in 4.1). Ohara claims that they are the result of the natural evolution of the giant insects, though given Ohara has a PhD in nonsense he is probably wrong about this, particularly since the Ravagers seem to know what the final form of the giant insects will be.
They are said to be fast enough to take down EDF fighter jets, and the initial EDF counter-attack in the next mission, City of Horror is an unmitigated disaster, with EDF air units coming under heavy attack as Storm Team struggles to rescue Ranger teams stranded in the city. The Air Raider loses all support abilities as seemingly Whale, the supporting Charon Tactical Bombers and the Artillery Team are lost while trying to retreat, while Porters makes it to Kirakawa Air Base, only for the base itself to come under attack.
The next mission, Mountains Ablaze, begins with the Air Raider still having no support, but as the scattered EDF survivors battle Dragons and Deroys in the mountains it is revealed that the EDF air units and artillery units have regrouped on the Fortress Aircraft Carrier Despina, which they operate from for the remainder of the game.
The Ravagers are enthusiastic about deploying Dragons for the remainder of the game, and it is established that they are being used against EDF bases and cities across the world to exterminate the remaining human population. Ultimately the Brain deploys them from its final set of Earth Eaters while it is critically damaged in Star Eaters.
The only Greater Wild Dragon in 2025's singleplayer campaign is in the mission Divine, where a single one appears following a battle with a wave of normal dragons. In 4.1, as the difficulty increases there are more: one more on Hard or Hardest, and two more on Inferno.
The only other place a Greater Wild Dragon appears outside DLC is online mission 89 (2025) / 93 (4.1) Legion of Monsters, which features all four of the "boss" giant insects.