385. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Israel1

126458. 1. Dept officer informed Israeli Ambassador Harman and Minister Evron Jan 26 that USG had now completed certain plans related to our earlier decision to accelerate F–104 deliveries and training for Jordan. In next few weeks we would be sending 6 F–104s to Jordan on temporary basis. These would be US Air Force planes, would be maintained by US Air Force personnel and would be withdrawn as Jordan’s own F–104s were delivered. We were taking this step within context our effort achieve maximum psychological impact in Jordan through rapid and visible response to King Hussein’s request for assistance. While in Jordan, aircraft would be used for training Jordanian pilots and ground crews.

2. Dept officer stated that this action would be presented publicly as integral part of our December commitment to accelerate training and delivery F–104s for Jordan. We did not intend to initiate publicity and would not comment on status of aircraft or details our arrangements with GOJ. We wanted GOI to know, however, that USG had taken every precaution to assure that there would be no incidents involving these aircraft; specifically, they would not be flown in border areas. Dept officer stressed that this and other details being very closely held and requests GOI do likewise.

3. Ambassador Harman said this information would be helpful to Prime Minister Eshkol in calming fears which presence these aircraft [Page 754] in Jordan might arouse. At same time, noting GOI’s concern re publicity currently being accorded to airlift in Jordan, Harman urged that arrival of F–104s be kept in low key. In addition, he urged early favorable response to GOI request for delivery of eight rather than presently scheduled four A–4F’s to Israel in December (Katzenbach-Harman Memcon Jan 18);2 such decision would help counteract potentially adverse reaction in Israel to arrival F–104s in Jordan.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 19–8, US–JORDAN. Secret; Exdis; College Run. Drafted by Atherton on January 26, cleared by Robert B. Houghton and Hoopes, and approved by Davies. Repeated to Amman.
  2. See Document 383.