782.5 MAP/6–1450

Memorandum by the Deputy Director of Mutual Defense Assistance, Department of State (Ohly), to the Director of the Office of Military Assistance, Department of Defense (Lemnitzer)

top secret

Subject: Fiscal Year 1950 Air Force MDA Matériel Program, Title II.

I refer to your memorandum, above subject, dated May 16, 1950,1 concerning the Air Force Program for Turkey. The Department appreciates the arguments set forth in paragraph 2 thereof in support of supplying Turkey with jet aircraft, and will give fullest consideration thereto. It is also appreciated that early disclosure of the proposal to give jet aircraft to Turkey would facilitate the handling of the airfield rehabilitation project for FY 1950 and would permit of early training in flying and maintenance techniques.

However, there are certain political considerations which make it necessary that the proposal to give jet aircraft to Turkey not be disclosed at this time even to the Turkish Government. The exact temper of the new Turkish Government and of its new Chief of Staff2 remains to be established. Premature announcement of our intention to send jets to Turkey would indicate a confidence in the new Government not yet proven. A few months should provide indications of the extent to which cooperation can be expected from them, and of the strength they might be expected to exhibit should Russian pressure develop as the result of providing jet planes. It would also appear that the new Government may renew pressure for United States participation in a regional pact, and, should our reply be negative, simultaneous announcement of our intention to provide jet planes would appear desirable. Finally, it appears that the announcement to the Turkish Government should come as soon as possible in relation to the start of training in jet aircraft, to minimize the delay inherent in training and procurement procedures in the Turkish mind.

It is therefore recommended that, in so far as the rehabilitation of the airfields is concerned, the position be adopted with the Turkish Government that it would be wasteful to invest funds to rehabilitate these fields only so as to permit the accommodation of conventional aircraft; and that sound business judgment indicates that, in view of the possibility that Turkey may herself wish to acquire more modern aircraft, the rehabilitation project should be pursued on a basis which will not call for doing the job over again in the next year or two, [Page 1271] should Turkey obtain jet aircraft in one way or another. It is believed that this argument has some merit in and of itself in view of the technological strides being made in the field of aviation, and in view of the understanding of the Department based on informal statements of representatives of the Department of Defense, that constructing these fields for jet aircraft will not result in any substantial increase in length of runway or in the gross weight which the airstrip will be able to accommodate. “No specific publicity should be given to the fact that these fields will be designed for jet aircraft use. Conversely, no extreme secrecy should be given to this fact which would in turn unduly emphasize this aspect of the project and give it an unduly sinister cast.

It is understood that the question of training becomes of immediate importance with respect to Turkish students who will be coming to the United States for flight training for jet aircraft. It is informally understood that it is possible to postpone this flight training for jet aircraft so that all of the Turkish students would commence this training in January 1951. Even if this were done, it is understood that sufficient advance notice to the Turkish Government is necessary in order to let it select those students. The Department of State therefore recommends that training spaces for such students be reserved in classes to commence not before January 1951, and that the Turkish Government should not be informed at this time that those spaces are reserved for jet flying training. The Department of State further recommends that in the fall, several weeks before the Turkish Government should be requested to select students for jet flying training in order that such students could be available for the January 1951 classes, the two Departments review the situation regarding the furnishing of jet aircraft to Turkey.

You may be assured that the most sympathetic reception to the concept of giving jet aircraft to Turkey will be afforded, subject to developments in the political arena in the ensuing months. However, it is believed that the delay which this process will afford will permit the resolution of certain political aspects of the situation in Turkey and will permit us to gauge better the Russian reaction to the airfields rehabilitation projects.

With respect to paragraph 4 of your memorandum, the Department is willing to accept the amendment proposed.

Should the foregoing appear to you to call for still further consideration, the Department of State is agreeable to your suggestion of discussing this matter in the FMACC.

John H. Ohly
  1. Not found in Department of State files.
  2. Gen. Nuri Yamut.