751.5 MSP/5–852: Telegram

No. 516
The Ambassador in France (Dunn) to the Department of State1


6905. Cotel. Defense for Frank Nash.

[Page 1204]
French Govt has presented country team with detailed memo2 concerning additional OSP which the Fr Govt requests be made in Fr for reasons set forth para VI of Lisbon memo.3
Program envisaged by Fr amounts to approx 216 billion francs ($616 million) spread over several years. Payments scheduled as fols: 1952—$106 million; 1953—$303 million; 1954—$164 million; later—$43 million.
Items which Fr suggest that US purchase include following: 300 MD–452 jet aircraft; 80 Nord 2501 cargo aircraft; 118 artillery observation planes; $7.5 million of radio and radar equipment; $8.7 million of aviation ammunition; 680 armored reconnaissance cars; 835 13-ton tanks; various sizes artillery amo; 150 Sea Venon aircraft; 20 cargo aircraft; 15 jet trainers.
Contracts authority for foregoing items had been granted by previous Fr legislatures; items are included on provisional basis in current Fr military budget under caption “to be cancelled if not purchased by US under offshore program”.
In explaining memo to us, Clermont-Tonnerre of French Inter-ministerial Comite indicated that although 216 billion francs ($616 million) is figure given in memo, minimum Fr requirement would be covered by purchases amounting to around 170 billion francs (about $500 million). Reduction to reach lower figure will be explained to us later.
Clermont-Tonnerre confirmed Pleven’s statements to Natl Ass. (Embtel 6874, May 74 and Tomus 434, May 65) as to urgent Fr need for this additional OSP. He stated that while equipment involved this production not related to 1952 Fr forces build-up, it is of utmost importance that Fr receive US assurances at earliest possible date that purchases along lines suggested can be undertaken; otherwise, Fr production of these items will have to be cancelled as of July 1.
Threat of such cancellations, added Clermont-Tonnerre, will place Pleven under great pressure in Assembly during debates later this month to re-adjust budget in a way that wld permit maintenance Fr production in order avoid adverse effect on Fr economic life including closing of plants, layoff of personnel, etc. Funds to do this cld only be obtained by reducing other mil expenditures, particularly those for maintenance of troops.
It was emphasized that Fr do not necessarily desire the immed letting of contracts or obligation of funds by US. Assurances of US willingness to undertake all or most of purchases suggested wld be sufficient to permit Pleven to reassure Assembly that important programs wld not be cancelled.
Country team proceeding undertake detailed analysis of Fr proposals; we will hold series of discussions with Fr to obtain full supplementary info. Details of Fr proposals with our comments and recommendations will be forwarded as soon as possible.
  1. Repeated to Heidelberg for Handy, Wiesbaden for USAFE, and London for NPO.
  2. Not found in Department of State files.
  3. Transmitted to the Department of State in Document 507.
  4. This telegram summarized press reactions to Pleven’s report to the Defense Committee of the National Assembly concerning French need for extra military aid. (951.61/5–752)
  5. This telegram discussed Pleven’s report as related in the press. (751.5 MSP/5–652)