520. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, July 11, 19551


  • Peruvian Complaint Regarding Condition of U.S. Jet Aircraft and Proposed Purchase of Military Equipment


  • Ambassador Berckemeyer of Peru
  • Colonel Silva Rojas, Peruvian Military Attaché
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary Cecil B. Lyon, ARA
  • AR—Mr. Sayre
  • OSA—Mr. McGinnis

Ambassador Berckemeyer said that he wished to talk about the question of the jet aircraft recently delivered to Peru by the USAF.2 He said that six of these planes turned out to be used aircraft with a considerable number of hours of operation. He said that officials of his Government were very disappointed over this and that General Moya, Peruvian Chief of Air Staff, had recently come to Washington to discuss the matter with Pentagon officials. He said that, in fact, General Moya had an appointment with General O’Hara of the USAF to discuss the matter tomorrow. The Ambassador said that he hoped that the Department of State would take up this matter with the USAF with a view to resolving the matter satisfactorily.

Mr. Lyon expressed regret that the Peruvians were disappointed in the condition of the aircraft and said that he felt quite sure that the USAF would make any rectification required by the circumstances. He said he would be glad to talk to General O’Hara about this matter and would do so as soon as possible. Mr. Sayre brought out that there was perhaps some misunderstanding regarding the condition of the aircraft since the planes in question came from AF inventory. He indicated that when the planes were sold to Peru for a price considerably below the cost of new aircraft, it was understood that new ones would not be provided. He also indicated that these [Page 1047] aircraft had been delivered sooner than it would have been possible to furnish new aircraft. Mr. Sayre said that the AF was considering sending a technical team to Lima to inspect the aircraft so that appropriate measures could be taken to correct any deficiencies.

Ambassador Berckemeyer said that he thought the idea of sending a technical team to Peru was an excellent one and hoped that it could be carried out. He thanked Mr. Lyon for offering to speak to General O’Hara about this matter and indicated that he believed a satisfactory solution could be found to the matter.

(After the Ambassador had departed, Mr. Lyon telephoned General O’Hara who confirmed that he had arranged to meet with General Moya tomorrow to discuss this matter. General O’Hara informed Mr. Lyon that although a check in the AF indicated that there were no deficiencies in the rehabilitation of the aircraft in question, there nevertheless could have been some failure on the part of those responsible for reconditioning the planes. General O’Hara assured Mr. Lyon that the USAF would deal with the Peruvians most fairly and in a spirt of goodwill in order to avoid embarrassment and ill-feeling, and said that a technical team could probably be sent to Lima to inspect the aircraft and arrange for the correction of any deficiencies.)3

After the conclusion of the discussion regarding the jet aircraft, the Ambassador said that he wished to present a note (No. 5–3–M/144 dated July 11, 1955) to Mr. Lyon regarding the proposed purchase by Peru from the United States Government of various items of military equipment and ammunition.4 He said that he had brought Colonel Silva Rojas with him for the purpose of discussing the contents of the note. Colonel Silva then said that the equipment listed in the note was needed to increase the efficiency of the Peruvian Army, both for the purpose of enabling it to fulfill commitments with the United States for the defense of the Hemisphere, as well as for domestic defense. The Colonel said that the list contained an item calling for the purchase of 35 medium M4A3 tanks. He said that if available, 17 of these tanks should be M26 tanks. Colonel Silva asserted that the Defense Department had [Page 1048] recently announced that M26 tanks were available, but had withdrawn the offer shortly thereafter. Accordingly, he was not quite certain whether they could be obtained or not. The Colonel stated that the remaining items on the list were principally ammunition, spare parts and similar items.

Mr. Lyon assured Ambassador Berckemeyer and Colonel Suva that the note would be carefully considered and the request taken up as soon as possible through appropriate channels.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 723.5622/7–1155. Confidential. Drafted by McGinnis.
  2. The matter of the jet aircraft had previously been brought to the attention of the Department of State in February, when the Peruvian Ambassador asked Sparks for help in expediting delivery of planes Peru had ordered the previous year. The Department was not able to help at that time because the Air Force did not have the planes ready. (Memorandum of a conversation, February 4; ibid., 723.5622/2–455)

    Robert Sayre prepared a briefing memorandum for Cecil Lyon earlier on the day of the July 11 meeting. In it he informed Lyon that six aircraft had been delivered on July 1, and six more remained to be delivered. The Air Force was investigating the condition of the planes and planned to explain the matter to General Moya the following day. The Air Force informed the Department of State that it planned to take care of any deficiencies in the aircraft. (Ibid., 723.5622/7–1155)

  3. A memorandum from Sayre to Holland and Lyon, dated July 13, reported that the Air Force officer handling the case of the Peruvian jets had informed him that the matter was being straightened out with the Peruvians. Technical repair work was to be done on the six aircraft previously delivered to Peru, and the six F–86s not yet delivered were to be inspected by Peruvian Air Force officers in this country before they went to Peru. (Ibid.)

    Gonzalo Pizarro, Peruvian Chargé d’Affaires, telephoned Lyon on September 16 to indicate that the Peruvian Government was satisfied with the way in which the F–86 matter had been settled, and was grateful to the Department for its help. (Memorandum of a telephone conversation, September 16; ibid., 723.5622/9–1655)

  4. Not printed. (Ibid., 723.5–MSP/7–1155)