272. Memorandum From the Chief of the Africa Division, Directorate of Plans, Central Intelligence Agency (Fields) to Director of Central Intelligence McCone1
- Status of B–26 K Aircraft in the Congo
1. This memorandum is for the information of the Director of Central Intelligence.
2. During August 1964 the U.S. Air Force furnished three B–26 K aircraft to the Congo, and CIA furnished four B–26 B aircraft. The B–26 K’s were furnished for a limited period and are scheduled for withdrawal from the Congo on 17 October 1964. It is Africa Division’s understanding that the Department of Defense is prepared to extend this date for an additional period if requested to do so. In discussions with the Departments of State and Defense, Africa Division has taken the position that the extension of the B–26 K’s in the Congo is a policy matter and that the request to the Department of Defense for an extension should originate with the Department of State. It was learned on 1 October 1964 that the Department of State intends to submit such a request.
3. From an operational standpoint, Africa Division and Special Operations Division think it necessary that the B–26 K’s be retained in the Congo for an additional period of 60 days (or earlier if the situation changes in such a way as to make them unnecessary), and that the 13 USAF maintenance personnel for these aircraft remain until CIA-provided personnel are in position and checked out to maintain them. This view is based on the following considerations:
A. The Congolese Air Force is now operating from four widely dispersed bases (Leopoldville, Kamina, Bukavu, and Lisala). Except for Bukavu, other combat aircraft available (T–28’s and T–6’s) do not have adequate range to perform all necessary missions in support of the Congolese National Army. The effective T–28/T–6 combat radius under average conditions is 90 miles with little reserve left for time over target. The B–26 under average conditions has a combat radius of up to 500 miles with as much as an hour and a half over target.
B. The CIA senior air operations officer in the Congo has stated that the Congolese National Army troops do not perform effectively without air support visible overhead.[Page 395]
C. The B–26 aircraft have the additional advantages of a twin engine safety factor, better armament, a superior all-weather capability, and higher speed.
D. The B–26 B aircraft provided by the Agency are much inferior to the USAF B–26 K’s. The Air Force has withdrawn B–26 B’s from its inventory, and the Agency is planning to do the same because of certain structural deficiencies in the B–26 B as well as the high maintenance factor due to old age. The [less than 1 line not declassified] pilots in the Congo have shown an awareness of the structural deficiencies and a reluctance to utilize B–26 B aircraft.
5. The Director may wish to use the views expressed above should his opinions on the importance of the B–26 K aircraft be sought.
Chief, Africa Division2