146. Memorandum for the Files1
- Lockheed P3B Proposal to Italy
On December 12 Mr. Phil Sullivan and Mr. James Gannett of Lockheed Aircraft Corporation came in to discuss the possibility that there might still be hope that the GOI would reverse its field and buy the P3B. They had information from their representative in Rome that the GOI might not yet have formally committed itself in writing to the Breguet Atlantique; also there was a possibility that some members of the new government might be friendly to the P3B. They said they had called at the Pentagon and been informed that while DOD was not prepared to take the initiative in offering its proposal again, it would have no objection to informing the Embassy in Rome that the offer was still valid, in the event a question were asked from the Italian side. In response [Page 305] I told Messrs. Sullivan and Gannett that we did not know whether the GOI had signed a commitment on the Atlantique, but that it was not likely that we would be informed in any event; we would be prepared to ask the Embassy if it had any information on the general subject, but would check first with DOD.
I subsequently spoke to Olney in DOD/ILN who had seen Sullivan and Gannett several days earlier. He said he felt that there was no change whatsoever of an Italian switch and that the straws held out by the Lockheed representative in Rome were very thin indeed. DOD did not want to associate itself with a further offer on the basis of such flimsy evidence, and did not even want to send a contingency “if asked” message to the Embassy. On the other hand Olney told the Lockheed officials that if the Italians were to approach them on the P3B, the Pentagon would stand behind the P3B package.
During a conversation with Bob Gordon in Rome on December 13, I mentioned the Lockheed call the previous day. He said there had been a few rumors floating on the subject, but they all could be traced back to one source, the Lockheed man in Rome. If there were anything substantial, the Embassy would certainly report it, but this was definitely not the case. A month ago, MOD Gui had sent a letter of intent on the Atlantique to the NATO consortium group, but whether this constituted a binding commitment was not clear.
- Source: Department of State, Italian Desk Files: Lot 72 D 509, Def 19-8. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Charles K. Johnson.↩