Interesting mate and a great find- yes the RAAF did look at the F-5A but like you said they wanted a Fighter first which is why the Mirage was selected. The MB-326K was touted briefly for the RAAF who wanted to pull the Canberra bombers out of Vietnam and have a small strike force still there but in the end a change of government killed that idea- needless to say that when the market heard about the RAAF looking into buying the 326K, offers from the US (A-37) and the UK (Strikemaster- which was later bought by New Zealand after they saw it in Australia) came about. But like I said, the idea was killed off with a change in government.
Found this 1966 FI article on the "Historic Aviation" section here.
In one of the side articles, there is discussion of the RAAF in SEA.
Of interest is the opinion of the writer that the RAAF made a mistake in selecting the Mirage III. Not news, but what I had never seen was that the F-5 had been considered.
Since only the F-5A, which was primarily a light-strike aircraft (with fighter a very secondary role) was available at that time (the F-5E with an A-A radar came in in 1972), that seems illogical, but this author says that that would have been the better choice, as it would have been of more use in Vietnam, and further modifications of the Sabre for better ground attack use would not have been needed.
He also discussed consideration by the RAAF of a strike version of the Macchi MB.326 for induction, separate from (but useful in meeting) Vietnam needs..
What have you found about this?
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