141. Telegram from the Embassy in Italy to the Department of State 1
Rome, September 10, 1968, 1810Z.
8209. Ref: Rome 8173.2 Subject: P-3B Sale to Italy.
- I called on Minister of Defense Gui afternoon September 10 and discussed P-3B aircraft sale along same general lines my talk with Foreign Minister Medici (reftel).
- While a bit evasive on exact status of technical recommendations by service chiefs, Gui made it clear that Italian military considered P-3B and Atlantique roughly equal insofar as operational effectiveness concerned. (Later discussion brought out fact that Italians considered P-3B operationally superior in certain respects but it had distinct disadvantage of being too heavy to operate from many Italian airfields. Thus “advantages and disadvantages of P-3B more or less cancelled each other out.”)
- Gui said he had written letter to Prime Minister Leone requesting Leone to convene an early meeting of various Ministries concerned with this matter. In addition to Defense and Foreign Affairs, he mentioned Ministries of Industry and Commerce and State participation. He said he hoped decision would be reached soon and indicated that a principal consideration would be extent and nature of participation by Italian industry. Gui noted that there was not only the important matter of probably large participation by Italian industry in the Atlantique consortium, but of even more importance the possibility of continued participation by Italian industry in the construction of aircraft which might be developed and manufactured in the future.
- Gui recognized the importance and relevance of the political aspects of the decision and the operational aspects involved in the use of the same equipment by Italy and U.S. He emphasized that my call had been most timely and assured me that due consideration would be given to all the arguments I put forth when interministerial meeting takes place.