402. Letter From the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Gilpatric) to the Under Secretary of State (Ball)0
Dear George: During the spring and summer of 1961, Chester Bowles and I discussed the requirement for a missile tracking station in the Republic of South Africa. These discussions resulted in our agreement to proceed with negotiations for the use of a station at Grootfontein through the end of 1963. In turn, I agreed that Defense would undertake to develop ship-borne tracking capabilities for use after that time. As you know, an Agreement was subsequently concluded with South Africa which authorizes our use of a tracking station there through 1963, and thereafter subject to six months notice.
It is the purpose of this letter to advise you that we are planning to reorient our efforts to obtain a ship-borne tracking capability for the South African area by up-grading one or more of the ships now used by the Atlantic Missile Range. While it was our original intention to secure a sophisticated tracking ship at an estimated cost in excess of $40 million, the current and foreseeable requirements do not warrant such an expenditure at this time.
The Grootfontein station has contributed greatly to our missile program. It will continue to be of importance after 1963 and I would hope that we could continue to use the station after that time. As I indicated earlier, however, we would be prepared to withdraw from the station should this prove politically necessary.