495. Letter From the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Robertson) to the Special Assistant to the President (Anderson)1

Dear Mr. Anderson : The Department of Defense and the Department of State, pursuant to NSC Action 1527 (e),2 have re-examined the programmed shipment of 31 F–84G jet aircraft to Thailand, and for the reasons set forth below have concluded that the Department of Defense should proceed to implement this program.

The six squadrons of propeller driven F–8Fs provided the Royal Thai Air Force under the Fiscal Year 1950–1956 [1951]Mutual Defense Assistance Program to meet the force basis determined by the Joint Chiefs of Staff are obsolete and it will soon be uneconomical and impractical to obtain parts for them. On the other hand, parts for jet planes are available. For this reason, the U.S. has assisted the Royal Thai Air Force to institute a jet training program utilizing nine U.S. provided jet planes. In addition, 31 F–84G jet planes have been programmed for delivery in FY 1957 to permit commencement of a program for the gradual replacement of one of the six squadrons of propeller driven planes.

Thailand has already successfully embarked upon the transition from propeller driven aircraft to jet aircraft in the expectation of receiving jets under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program. Furthermore, other nations of the Far East, including some of those associated with Thailand in the Manila Pact, are to receive jet aircraft under the MDA Program. Thus, to interrupt the Thai jet program at this time would not only lead to lessening Thailand’s defense capability but would have serious political repercussions. Such a move would be interpreted by Thai leaders as an indication of decreased U.S. interest in Thailand’s defense and would thereby increase the risk of a shift by Thailand toward neutralism.

[Page 882]

Information now available indicates that because of Thailand’s limited economic and financial capacity, U.S. support will be required to maintain current force goals and objectives whether or not jet aircraft are provided to Thailand.

For these reasons, unless otherwise instructed, the Department of Defense, with the concurrence of the Department of State, will continue action to supply Thailand 31 F–84G jet aircraft as programmed for FY 1957.

Sincerely yours,

Reuben B. Robertson, Jr. 3
  1. Source: Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 62 D 1, Thailand. Top Secret. Transmitted to the NSC under a covering memorandum by Lay, June 6, for use at the NSC meeting of June 7. The memorandum of discussion of the June 7 NSC meeting is infra .
  2. See footnote 8, Document 488.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.