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Statement by the honourable Peter Howson, MP, Minister for Air The RAAF Miracle Programme takes shape

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SUNDAY July 25th 1965

RAAF PR S3906/65



The RAAF will have sufficient Mirage 111-0 supersonic jet fighters to form a complete squadron by August 1st.

Announcing this yesterday, the Minister for Air, Mr Peter Howson, said the time was appropriate for a review of the RAAF1s Mirage programme.

The Australian built Mirage now in squadron service with the RAAF is a substantially different air weapon from the Mirage available in France at the time the original order was placed with General Aeronautique Marcel Dassault, the French designers of the aircraft.

The RAAF is, in effect, getting a potent air defence weapon, not at that time available in France.

It has been up-graded with special equipment and fitments required by the RAAF that enhance its capability far beyond the original.

It has been given the capacity to reach its target under all weather conditions. Further modifications have adapted it for a ground attack role.

When the RAAF purchasing team went overseas to seek a replace­ ment for the Avon Sabre, they were looking primarily for an all-weather interceptor fighter.

Since that date, developments in South-East Asia have emphasized the need for fighter aircraft with ground attack capabilities.

The Mirage has been given this capability without materially affecting its general performance as an interceptor fighter.

During its development and production in Australia there have been increases in cost, but these have been almost entirely due to the improvements made since work began. .

In spite of the fact that it has been given capabilities far beyond those originally envisaged, the cost of the Mirage has stayed remarkably' close to the figures announced more than five years ago.

Its programme cost, i.e. the "flyaway" cost plus its proportion of spare engines, spare parts, ground handling equipment, technical information and manufacturirgfacilities etc. was announced in December I960 as being £1.1.m.

The latest figures indicate that the 110 Mirages ordered (includ­ ing 10 of the training version) will cost £135m. On this basis the current cost of each aircraft is about £1.2m.


At RAAF,Wi 11iamtown, the re-equipment of the RAAF fighter squadrons with the Mirage is proceeding to schedule and the pilots who fly it have high praise for its performance and handling capabilities.

No 2 Operational Conversion Unit is just completing its third pilot conversion course which means that the RAAF will have an adequate number of fully trained Mirage pilots to man one squadron.


Two operational deployments of Mirages to Darwin in order to test the aircraft in tropical conditions and in the air defence radar environment there, have already been completed. ■

The Darwin detachments were flown in exercises against RAAF bombers and the RAF1s V jet bombers. In these exercises the performance of the Mirage was outstanding. ■

The RAAF has taken delivery of the first of the operational versions of the French R-530 Matra missile. Deliveries of these missiles are being made to Australia progressively.

The missile will give the Mirage the ability to attack an hostile aircraft from any direction. It will no longer be necessary to manoeuvre the interceptor to the rear cone of the target aircraft before launching missiles.

It should not be overlooked that the Mirage was chosen six years ago by a high level RAAF evaluation team after the most meticulous consider­ ation of all the aircraft available at that time. . ■

The team was led by the then Chief of the Air Staff (Air Chief Marshal Sir Frederick Scherger).

The key requirements of the RAAF for range, armament, speed and altitude performance were stringently laid down.

Technical data of all fighters of the free world were studied and the field was eventually narrowed down to five which were then examined on the spot by the evaluation team. '

It is of interest to recall that only the Mirage, in the final analysis, met the exacting requirements laid down.

Rot only did the Mirage reach these standards, it was a much cheaper aircraft to buy and it was also simpler to build.

The team's preference for the Mirage was unanimous. Quite clearly, it was the best aircraft available in the world for RAAF purposes.


Having selected the Mirage, the government then'had to decide whether to produce it in Australia or buy it direct from France.

Local manufacture might mean some delay and possibly some increase in costa.

However, on the other side of the balance sheet the future of the aircraft manufacturing industry in this countiy was at stake and without it there would be no highly skilled reservoir of aviation industry experts to back up the RAAF.

The decision to make the Mirage in this country has not only kept an industry in being, it has modernised it, introducing sophisticated techniques which will ultimately spread their beneficial influences beyond aircraft building into many other engineering industries in Australia.

The local production of the Mirage means that spare parts will also be readily available to the RAAF.

The many great benefits derived from keeping alive a great Australian industry more than compensate for the price the RAAF is paying for some delay and some extra cost.


The RAAF has been the mainstay of the aircraft industry in Australia since a group of leading companies joined together almost 30 years ago to establish the' industry. A very large proportion of the operational and training effort of the RAAF in Australia during World War II was carried out in aircraft manufactured or assembled in Australia. '

The story was the same in the years that followed.

■Not only does the industry provide work for highly skilled Australian technicians, it has also been the means of bringing hundreds of skilled British aircraft industry workers who have been attracted to this country by the aircraft manufacturing industry.

With justifiable pride the RAAF looks forward to the completion of the ambitious Mirage programme now well on its way to fulfilment.

For further information contacts-

Department of Air Directorate of Public Relations Russell Offices CANBERRA ACT

Telephone No Working hours 652321-22-23 After Hours 47476