103. Editorial Note

United States–United Kingdom consultations on Iraq’s Air Force were characterized by strong British objections to the United States supplying Iraq with F–86 jet aircraft. In a letter to Secretary Dulles, British Ambassador Caccia conveyed Foreign Secretary Lloyd’s concern that introducing F–86s into the Iraqi Air Force would complicate the operational, technical, and maintenance problems of a “small” but “quite effective” air force. Lloyd suggested that the U.S. air survey’s conclusion that the Iraqis would have no difficulty in operating F–86s was “quite unrealistic.” Lloyd also stated that political disadvantage could result from the fact that the two members of the Arab Union (Iraq and Jordan) would have different aircraft, especially since the F–86 was the inferior plane. For these reasons, Lloyd hoped Dulles would reconsider the U.S. decision. (Letter from Caccia to Dulles, April 28; Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204, UK Officials—Sec. Dulles/Herter, 1954–1960)

Caccia and Dillon met to discuss the problem on April 29 at the Department of State. Dillon explained since there were only 18 Hawker Hunter Mark IV aircraft available for the next year, the United States had concluded that they should go to Lebanon and Jordan because of Israeli sensitivities. Therefore, the F–86 aircraft, which the United States did not consider inferior to the British plane, was the only answer for Iraq’s urgent needs. Dillon added that a F–86 jet cost one-third the price of a Hawker Hunter Mark IV obtained by offshore procurement. Caccia stated he was under instruction to raise this issue with Secretary Dulles. When Dillon assured the British Ambassador that he and Herter had been authorized to make this decision, Caccia stated that he was under instruction to reluctantly accept. (Memorandum of meeting, April 29; ibid., Central Files, 787.5622/4–2958)