16. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Jet Planes for Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq1


  • The Acting Secretary
  • W—Mr. C. Douglas Dillon
  • NEA—Mr. William N. Rountree
  • Mr. Mansfield D. Sprague, Assistant Secretary of Defense
  • Admiral Charles K. Bergin, Department of Defense
  • NEStuart W. Rockwell

The meeting was called by Mr. Herter to discuss the matter of the provision of modern jet planes to the governments of Lebanon, Jordan [Page 60] and Iraq. It was agreed that because of the political considerations arising out of the Palestine dispute it would be undesirable for the United States to provide jet planes to the governments of Lebanon and Jordan and thereby become involved in the responsibility of training. It was further agreed that Hawker Hunter Mark VIs, to be obtained in the UK by offshore procurement, should be granted to Lebanon and Jordan, six to the former and twelve to the latter.

In connection with Iraq it was felt that the Palestine political implications were not so serious and mention was made of the Congressional opposition to offshore procurement, of the fact that F–86’s would be considerably less expensive than Hawker Hunters, and the fact that if F–86’s were provided the Air Force would gain funds which could be used to acquire more modern planes. The political effects in the UK and on the UK position in Iraq, of a U.S. decision to supply F–86’s were also discussed. It was stated that the likely result of sending American planes into Iraq would be the requirements that the United States gradually assume responsibility for the maintenance and the training of the Iraqi Air Force. Mr. Sprague said the Defense Department was prepared to accept this responsibility.

The majority present at the meeting favored the supplying of fifteen F–86’s to Iraq on a grant basis. Mr. Rountree said that he wished to inform the British as soon as possible of the plans for planes to be supplied to Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.2 Mr. Dillon undertook to expedite the preparation of the 401 action with regard to the planes for Lebanon and Jordan.

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199. Secret. Drafted by Rockwell.
  2. In a memorandum to Deputy Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Dillon, April 25, Director of the International Cooperation Administration James H. Smith, Jr., explained that he concurred with considerable reluctance in furnishing jet fighter aircraft to Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. He believed that it was undesirable to furnish such sophisticated weapons solely for reasons of prestige and noted that they would be a considerable drain on the available foreign exchange of these countries. (Memorandum from Smith to Dillon; ibid., Central Files, 700.5–MSP/4–2558)
  3. On April 23 at Rountree’s request, British Minister Lord Hood called at the Department of State. Rountree informed Hood of the decision at the April 22 meeting. Lord Hood raised the issue of the Iraqi Air Force operating efficiently with two types of modern aircraft. Rountree countered that the United States had considered it and did not believe it to be a problem. (Memorandum of conversation, April 23; ibid., 786.5622/4–2358)

    In telegram 7717 to London, April 29, the Department informed the Embassy that British Ambassador Caccia had delivered a personal message from Lloyd to Dulles on April 28 expressing concern over the decision to supply U.S. aircraft to Iraq. Lloyd was convinced that the Iraqi Air Force, built up on the basis of British equipment and training, would lose operational effectiveness by the introduction of F–86’s. (Ibid., 786.5621/4–2958)