210. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom1

4652. Subject: Plan K.2

Would like raise with you broad question of where we stand on Plan K commitment. Accepted here that U.S. interest still great in modernized, expanded RAF. Also believe U.K. has generally held in good faith to commitments, as reflected in budgetary expenditures. British difficulties in development and production of aircraft should be regarded as mutual setback and problem for joint consultation on remedies rather than as British failure meet commitments. However substantial delay in build-up and modernization of forces envisaged at time of commitments would appear warrant reexamination U.S. aid commitment. Original commitment predicated on fact British from own resources alone could not undertake agreed effort on specified time schedule and aid requited if schedule to be attained. Slippage resulting from technical problems may result in British inability meet original specified time schedule. If slippage likely be significant, question arises (a) whether US aid required in fiscal 1955 and (b) whether in course of subsequent years British would be in position complete plan on their own without U.S. aid. Appreciate your comments on above and views on 1) present indication lag in Plan K schedule 2) need for reexaming US aid commitment.
Early settlement above questions will facilitate resolution certain practical problems relating to most effective use presently available FY 1955 MDAP funds and programming of requirements for FY 1956 funds. In this connection following alternate courses appear open unless continued US support of Plan K should be seriously questioned, (a) Agree with British to shift from Javelin to other aircraft or RAF equipment for procurement in FY 1955, possibly also cancelling last year’s Javelin contract and shifting other equipment. This alternative would of course require very early affirmative answer basic question raised paragraph 1. Would also entail arrangements with British assure that AWX component of Plan K would be fulfilled by them, (b) Defer changing present plans procure Javelin until next year on assumption favorable evaluation still possible prior critical date. Alternative (b) involves choices of approach on funding. Might ask Congress for [Page 600] specific reappropriation of FY 1955 funds now earmarked for Plan K or might reprogram these funds for other purposes and treat Plan K as claim on new FY 1956 funds.
Your views requested on alternatives listed para 2 above.3
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 741.5–MSP/3–1155. Secret. Repeated to Paris. Drafted by Maurice G. Levy-Hawes and approved and signed for Dulles by Robert H. Kranich.
  2. Reference is to the British plan to equip and modernize the Royal Air Force.
  3. In telegram 4390 from London, April 5, Aldrich recommended that that portion of the Plan K commitment already under obligation or in an advanced state of negotiation be maintained and that the remaining portion be supplied in fiscal year 1956 notwithstanding the fact that, in the face of British cuts in the RAF, the United States was not bound to supply this aid. (Department of State, Central Files, 741.5–MSP/4–555)