774.5/1–153: Telegram

No. 1062
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Gifford) to the Department of State1


3610. Following is abbreviated text UK paper entitled “Military Assistance to Egypt—Supply of Arms and Warlike Equipment”2 handed to us today by Foreign Office for discussion during talks on Egypt. Such comments as Department and Cairo may wish make urgently would be appreciated.

“I. Supplies from United Kingdom.

1. Since October 1951 when Egyptian Government denounced 1936 Treaty UK has maintained, subject to certain recent exceptions, complete embargo on supply arms and warlike equipment Egypt. Chief exceptions are:

In October 1952 embargo on supply maintenance spares, other than arms, for operational aircraft was lifted. At same time HMG agreed to release consignment Chipmunk trainer aircraft to Egypt.
In November we agreed to release 15 Meteor jet aircraft (12 fighters and 3 trainers).
In December we approved export certain machine tools, engines, and sets of components required in connection with manufacture of Vampire aircraft in Egypt and some spares and minor items, mostly non-lethal, for Egyptian army.

2. All above equipment had been on order for several years. It was released as gesture goodwill towards GOE.

3. As regards remainder equipment on order by Egypt in UK it is by no means certain that she still requires all. At suitable moment she will probably be invited to submit up to date list her requirements. Meanwhile of greatest importance security UK forces in Egypt should not be prejudiced until prospects defence agreement become clearer. Also important to make as much capital as possible in course negotiations out of such releases of arms from UK as may be made for present intention therefore not to release any further supplies from UK until negotiations are under way. Thereafter they would be released in phases. Timing each release would depend on course of negotiations well as availability equipment [Page 1935] concerned (none of army equipment could be delivered without some detriment to needs of UK and her allies, but may well be necessary to accept some detriment as price agreement), and most important items wld be withheld until agreement reached.

4. Existing orders from UK have been divided into following phases:

Army equipment.

Phase A.

Major items:

Some static 3.7 inch anti-aircraft guns;
Spare parts for Centurion tanks already held by Egyptians;
Wireless sets from War Office stocks;
One or two radar sets Mark III.

Phase B.

Major items so far known:

Centurion tanks Mark III and armoured cars (these could be supplied without detriment to active forces but at some detriment to first contingent of territorial army);
Machine guns, with some small arms and other ammunition from War Office stocks.

Equipment in these phases would be drawn in roughly equal proportions from trade, new production and War Office stocks. Total estimated value known requirements some five million pounds of which Egyptians have already made down payments to value one million pounds.

Air Force equipment.

Phase A.

Remaining jet aircraft and components already ordered: 12 Meteor Mark VIII fighters, 22 Vampire fighter bombers, 16 Vampire night fighters;
21 Spitfires for which Egyptian air force recently enquired;
Further components and parts for production of Vampire aircraft.

Phase B.

Ammunition and arament spares now on order for existing aircraft of Egyptian air force.

Value equipment phases A and B above about pounds three million sterling.

Phase C.

Any new orders for jet aircraft and for armament spares.

Naval equipment.

Quantity naval equipment required by Egyptians so small it may be ignored for present purpose.

II. Supplies from US.

5. Apart from her requirements from UK, Egypt has submitted to US list of requirements. Many these items could be supplied [Page 1936] from UK sources, some at once from War Office stocks and some from new production over period one to two years. Regarding phasing, bulk warlike items for army, and jet day and night fighters with spares and ammunition, would come under phase B (army) and phase C (air force), in paragraph 4 above, and remainder could mostly be supplied now without contravening UK arms embargo policy.

6. Only warlike equipment which US have supplied to Egypt since denunciation of 1936 Treaty has been consignment of weapons and armoured vehicles originally ordered by Farouk equip personal bodyguard which he proposed to form.

III. Financing of Supplies.

7. Arms from UK would only be supplied for cash. This connection UK side would be glad know whether US Government might be willing make special release dollars to Egypt for purchase military equipment in UK. Such arrangement would have additional advantage according considerable incidental financial assistance to UK.

IV. Phasing of Supplies.

8. Proposals for phasing UK arms supplies described in paragraph 4 above were drawn up in accordance with principle, suggested by State Department, that supplies of arms should form part of package solution. For this phasing to be effective necessary any arms which US may decide supply to Egypt should be similarly phased. UK side would be glad know if US Government could agree to coordinate phasing on these lines.

9. Also necessary in due course inform North Atlantic powers and other friendly countries such as Sweden and Switzerland, which maintaining total or partial embargo on supply arms Egypt at request HMG of above intentions, and invite them keep in step. This could be done shortly before Egyptians due be informed first release. To do so earlier would be to risk premature collapse embargo imposed by these countries and so lose much of advantage in negotiations to be gained by US and UK releases arms. Moreover it would be unfortunate if news these intentions leaked to Egyptians.”

  1. This telegram was repeated priority to Cairo as telegram 181.
  2. This British paper was Appendix D of the “Agreed Record” of the United States–United Kingdom Talks on Egypt. (774.5/1–1453)