253. Memorandum From the Secretary of State’s Special Assistant (Armstrong) to the Acting Secretary of State1


  • Possibility that France has delivered additional Mystere aircraft to Israel

According to information currently available to U.S. Air Force Intelligence, the total Israeli jet fighter strength at present is 87, broken down as follows:

  • 24 Mysteres Mark IV
  • 36 Ouragans
  • 15 Gloucester Meteors Mark VIII
  • 6 Gloucester Meteors Mark IX
  • 6 Gloucester Meteors Mark VII (trainers)

The U.S. Air Attaché, Tel Aviv, who was in Washington on consultation in late August immediately after the reported “overhaul” flight to France, reported that at that time he had been able to locate only 7 Mysteres in Israel in addition to those absent in France. While it is entirely possible that the Israelis have purchased additional Mysteres since that time, it cannot be confirmed.

Air Force Intelligence considers that an additional 24 Mysteres for the Israeli Air Force at this juncture would not materially affect what is considered to be the present approximate balance of Air Force capabilities between the two hostile sides, as represented by Egyptian quantity of planes and Israeli quality of personnel and matériel. It is believed that Israeli Air Force combat units cannot in the immediate future absorb more than an additional 24 jet fighter aircraft because of limitations imposed by training, ground facilities and maintenance. These limitations also apply to the Egyptian Air Force for a similar period. Air Force Intelligence stresses the very great vulnerability of both sides and believes that under present circumstances the attacker, whichever he might be, could in the first five hours “win 50 percent of the air battle.”

While the Israelis would undoubtedly wish to acquire more jet fighter aircraft, these could not be added to combat strength in view of the limitation referred to, but would have to be held in reserve.

We understand that the Canadian Government announced today that it will make available to the Israelis 4 F–86’s per month up to a total of 24. Air Force Intelligence believes that the Israelis have a five-to-one preference for the F–86 over the Mystere because of [Page 560] trouble experienced with the latter. The F–86 will therefore be used probably as a first-line combat aircraft, and any Mysteres received in the future will be held in reserve to replace combat losses. The Israelis may be expected to take the fullest psychological and propaganda advantage of F–86 deliveries.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 784A.56/9–2156. Secret. A handwritten marginal notation on the source text reads: “Mr. Hoover saw.”