753.5 MSP/9–1354: Telegram

No. 814
The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Portugal 1


78. Cotel. This is State–Defense–FOA message. We have reviewed US position regarding Portuguese Air Force. Available country team reports indicate Portugal possesses economic capability support three squadrons of fighter bomber aircraft after June 1955 without further US assistance. We understand considerable difficulty has been experienced in obtaining from Portuguese MOD specific data regarding Portuguese budgetary and costing estimates. It is proposed you transmit memorandum to Portuguese Foreign Office along following lines but request country team comments beforehand:

“In view announcement made by US in course of 1953 AR to effect US would at some future date consider MDA airforce program for Portugal greater than three squadrons now programed, US wishes determine its present position in relation to this statement. US also desires reaffirm US view previously stated Portuguese Government possesses economic capability supporting three squadrons of fighter bomber aircraft after June 1955 without further US support. Fundamental to US considering MDA program for Portugal greater than three squadrons now programed is knowledge regarding Portuguese intentions and capability supporting three presently programed squadron without continued US support. It is therefore desirable this problem be discussed at earliest convenience between US country team and appropriate defense authorities Portugal in order establish basis for agreement on facts involved with special reference to estimates of support costs and [Page 1748] Portuguese budgetary plans cover such costs. Without satisfactory consultations these points, US will be unable consider question increasing MDA program for Portuguese airforce. In fact, if some agreed position concerning Portuguese capability support MDAP furnished equipment cannot be developed, may be necessary for US re-examine present delivery plans for third squadron.”

For your information, proposed cut-off date for MDAP airforce spare parts Portugal was originally cut-off date for all Western European countries. However, due delay in delivery F84F to so-called EDC countries, cut-off date for spare parts these countries was postponed for one year. Postponement was based on fact these countries were planning on receiving F84Fs to replace F84Gs and therefore had not budgeted for extended support of F84Gs. This lack budgetary availabilities reflects unforeseen delay in US delivery aircraft rather than inadequate planning on their part. However, Portugal has had adequate time effect budgetary planning for this cut-off date. Therefore, we do not now propose delay cut-off date beyond 30 June 1955 in case Portugal. Portugal’s intentions and capability supporting her own forces can best be determined through experience and presently established cut-off date can always be extended after Portuguese intentions and capabilities are better known.

We prefer take firm position at this time since we can eventually modify our position if and when it could reflect more favorably as a concession should Portuguese relate support of their military forces to satisfactory renegotiation of Azores agreement.

Wish your comments in context likely effect foregoing approach at this time on Azores renegotiation, bearing in mind above approach would probably be proposed as US position in NATO AR which likely be completed prior opening Azores renegotiation.

Comments info addressees also requested.2

  1. Drafted by Levy-Hawes and cleared with Jones, Beigel, Roper, Sharpe, and Kranich. Repeated to Paris and Wiesbaden.
  2. In telegram 71 from Lisbon, Sept. 16, Ambassador Guggenheim indicated his agreement to the transmission to the Portuguese Government of a note along the lines proposed in this telegram. (753.5 MSP/9–1654) A note to that effect, a copy of which was transmitted to Washington in despatch 233, Oct. 14, was handed to the Portuguese Foreign Office on Oct. 7. (753.5 MSP/10–1454) As reported in telegram 150 from Lisbon, Dec. 3, Brown had an interview with Santos Costa on Nov. 30 to discuss that portion of the note which called for consultations between the Country Team and the Portuguese regarding the future size of the Portuguese Air Force. Santos Costa, according to Brown, accepted the proposal only with the greatest reluctance. (740.5/12–354)