The Dauphin was initially designed as the SA 360, a single engined helicopter with a fixed landing gear whose first flight took place on June 2nd 1972. The design only came of age with the retractable landing gear and twin engines for increased reliability in maritime and Search-and-Rescue (SAR) operations, the prototype of which was first flown on January 24th 1974. The type has enjoyed immense success around the world, its most notable operator being the U.S. Coast Guard whose helicopters, designated HH-65, are manufactured locally in the USA.
Three Dauphins joined the IAF in May 1985, procured by Navy funds to operate off the Navy's missile boats. Tasked with maritime patrol and SAR, the Dolphins (as they were known in the IAF) were under the command of the Navy, although stationed at an IAF base and operated by the IAF's maritime helicopters squadron. On missions flown along Navy missile boats the two-man crew was augmented by a flight engineer and a Navy officer to operate the helicopter's search radar and coordinate operations with the boats' combat center. The Dolphins were retired in 1997, replaced by the Aerospatiale Panther, an upgraded Dolphin.
Sources: IAF Inventory