256. Memorandum From Francis M. Bator of the National Security Council Staff to President Johnson1


  • Harold Wilson’s Message of this Morning on the U.K. Defense Review

The important news about the British defense decisions—which is not in Harold Wilson’s message of this morning (Tab A)2—is that they have decided to buy 50 of our F-111’s, for delivery during ′68-′70. The total price will be $700-750 million, with payment over a 12-year period.

Bob McNamara believes that, with the F-111 order, our bilateral military balance-of-payments with the U.K. will be in the black—that our military dealings with the British will be on a better than 100% offset basis.3

Most important, the F-111 decision provides solid evidence that they have committed themselves to a continuing and major East of Suez role.

They are publishing their defense white paper on February 22. We will know more about what is in it after McNamara’s meeting with Healey tomorrow.4

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, UK, Vol. 2. Secret.
  2. Not printed. In it Wilson stated that the Cabinet had adopted a Defense White Paper for presentation to Parliament on February 22 and that Defense Minister Healey would visit Washington to discuss the details of the plan with Secretary McNamara.
  3. On average over the next twelve years, with a reasonable year-by-year balance. [Bator’s handwritten footnote in the source text.]
  4. A handwritten note on the memorandum reads: “OK. L.”