125. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson 1

SUBJECT

  • Aircraft for Argentina

Last May, DOD, with Secretary McNamara’s approval, reached an understanding with the Argentine Ministry of Defense for the sale of 50 of our Navy A–4B aircraft to help them modernize their Air Force. Our offer to help the Argentines came after we learned that they were considering bids for very expensive French planes. We did not want French influence in the Argentine Air Force. Since the Argentines were determined to acquire fighters, we wanted to see them do it at a price more nearly commensurate with their ability to pay. (The French “Mirage” fighter costs 2 to 3 times more than the A–4B.) Another consideration was the desire to maintain standardization of Latin American military equipment with ours.

The Argentines have reached agreement with the Douglas Aircraft Corporation on cost of modification and overhaul of the aircraft and now are ready to conclude the necessary credit agreements with us.

In our 1966 Military Assistance Program for Latin America, there is an item for $2.5 million in grant assistance to Argentina for spare parts and support equipment for use in connection with the A–4B’s. Use of MAP grant funds for training and support assistance has been standard practice in the Latin American area and is designed to help the recipient government maintain and obtain maximum use of its equipment.

In view of your desire to review commitments of this nature, I wanted to obtain your authorization before Defense proceeds to [Page 296]formalize the transaction. I recommend that you authorize me to tell Defense that they may go ahead.

McG. B.

Proceed with the transaction2

Hold up for further review

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, McGeorge Bundy, Vol. 16. Confidential.
  2. The President checked this option.