The photos and commentary on this page are provided courtesy of Bill Holker
who ran the guided weapons workshop in Malaysia from 1979 to 1981.
"These shots were taken in June 1981 at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base
Butterworth in Malaysia. The RAAF maintained 2 squadrons of Mirage IIIO's at
Butterworth. This was the first live fire exercise undertaken outside of
Australia for the Matra R530 air-to-air missile. As you can see Australian
Air Force standard working dress in the tropics was a little casual but cool.
"I was a Radio Technician (Air) and ran a team of Armament, Radio, Instrument and
Electrical tradesmen at Matra Section on the base. We were designated as
Missile Fitters or more commonly known as MissFitts. In the photo
"MissFitts" I am kneeling at bottom
left with my two sergeants beside me. The guy in front is the base armament
officer in charge of the exercise.
"The firing consisted of 4 missiles, two by each Squadron. We only did one "buy"
with the original Mirage purchase and were very frugal in the number actually fired
in practice. It was a very lucky pilot who actually got to fire one live.
I believe the quota was 4 missiles per year with these 4 only ones fired overseas.
"Pictures are self explaining by the titles. The Matra was stored in a pressurized,
nitrogen filled container until ready for use. The missile took about 4 hours to
assemble including pre-testing of the guidance head on the 929 mobile test set.
The wings on these missiles were painted orange for better camera tracking by the
"An all white missile as shown above was an inert training dummy for flight dynamics.
Semi-active and live missiles had a homing head the colour shown in the photos below.
The active training missile had an active guidance head so the pilot could practice
intercepts and get "tone" indications, etc., but no motor or warhead and was indicated
by a blue band around the body just forward of the wing leading edge and a black coating
on the radar antenna cover at the nose of the missile. The live missile had a yellow
band on the body and a brown radar antenna cover."
Click images for larger view.