The search for a Sabre replacement began in the late 1950s. In 1960, following an evaluation team visit to Europe and North America, the French Dassault Mirage III was selected over the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter.
The first two aircraft were built in France with the first flight on 14 March 1963. The remaining aircraft were built under license in Australia using the French SNECMA Atar 9C engine. No 2OCU at Williamtown began receiving deliveries in 1964 and the Australian Government Aircraft Factory and Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation went on to complete all 100 single seat Mirage IIIO's by 1967. These were followed by 16 two-seat trainers designated IIID, A3-101 to A3-116 by 1974. Production of the single seat aircraft was followed by production of 16 two-seat trainers, designated the Mirage IIID (A3-101 to A3-116) with delivery completed by 1974.
No 75 Sqn became the first operational unit in 1965 followed by No 76 Sqn in 1966. In 1967 No 75 Sqn deployed to Malaysia and replaced No 3 Sqn who returned to Australia to re-equip with the new fighter. 3 Sqn returned to Butterworth in 1969. No 77 Sqn became the fourth RAAF Mirage squadron. Following defence cuts under the Whitlam Government, No 76 Sqn was disbanded in August 1973 and the remaining three squadrons continued operating at RAAF Williamtown and RMAF Butterworth. In 1983 No 75 Sqn relocated from Butterworth to Darwin as part of plan bolster the defence of northern Australia and in March 1986 No 79 Sqn reformed at Butterworth when No 3 Sqn was returned once again to Australia to re-equip with the F/A18 Hornet. No 79 Sqn operated the Mirage until 1988 when the aircraft was finally withdrawn from Australian service. The 50 surviving aircraft were eventually sold to Pakistan in 1990.
The Mirage was in service longer than any other RAAF fighter and those who flew the aircraft held it in high regard and still speak fondly of their experiences.
General characteristics IIIO
Length: 15 m (49 ft 3.5 in)
Wingspan: 8.22 m (26 ft 11 in)
Height: 4.5 m (14 ft 9 in)
Empty weight: 7,050 kg (15,600 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 13,500 kg (29,700 lb)
Powerplant: 1× SNECMA Atar 09C turbojet with afterburner: 60.8 kN with (13,700 lbf)
Maximum speed: Mach 2.0 (2,350 km/h, 1,460 mph)
Range: 2,400 km (1,300 nm, 1,500 mi)
Service ceiling: 17,000 m (56,000 ft)
Rate of climb: 83.3 m/s (16,400 ft/min)
Guns: 2 x 30mm DEFA Cannon
Missiles: 1 x Matra R530 radar guided missile
2 x Sidewinder AIM-9B heat seeking missiles
or 2 x Matra R550 Magic heat seeking missiles
Bombs: 4 x Mk 82 500lb (227kg) general purpose bombs
or three GBU-12 laser-guided bombs
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