116. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Kingdom to the Department of State1

3415. Pass personally Halaby,FAA. Embtel 3350 sent Paris 628.2 Embassy understands Jenkins proposal3 as effort to stabilize time schedule Concorde and US SST programs in order to: (A) avoid uneconomic crash programs due competitive pressures, (B) reduce at least near term commitments of UKG and, (C) allow ample time for additional research into sonic boom and economic aspects of SST operations.

Jenkins proposal for talks presents two issues for decision by US. First we must decide almost immediately whether to enter into tripartite talks at all on program stabilization. Two views on this point evident—if we can immediately conclude that US has no interest in agreement of this type, it might be better not to enter into discussions which could lead only to failure and frustration. On other hand it would be discourteous and perhaps even more dangerous to assert we will not even talk. US could then be used by UKG as whipping boy in defending accelerated Concorde program to British public. UKG could use similar argument in event failure of talks but impact would be less, particularly if US has well-reasoned position.

Second decision USG must ultimately make is long term. Is it in US interest to stabilize respective SST programs so that each side knows where it stands or is US better off maintaining independence and flexibility? US Govt is now subject more pressures for slowdown in Concorde program than either French or US Govts. Key here is whether British, once over temporary economic and financial embarrassment, [Page 214] would be forced forge ahead as fast as possible on Concorde, given presumed French position, if faced with dynamic and unpredictable US SST effort.

On strictly competitive considerations, if we conclude that Concorde is faced with unavoidable slowdown due British political and economic realities, might be to US advantage to maintain free hand to adjust US SST program as we see fit. On other hand if we conclude that Concorde timetable inevitably linked with our own (and vice versa) despite temporary UK problems, might be to mutual advantage to stabilize situation by entering into schedule agreement.

Aside from competitive considerations, value of stabilizing agreement to US appears primarily related to extent and importance of unknown factors in US program such as sonic boom and economics. If these problems resolved or can be expected to be resolved in good time, then difficult perceive over-riding considerations favoring US acceptance of commitment on timetable which might inhibit production and delivery viable US SST. If determination satisfactory solution these problems still some time away or unpredictable, then rational approach would seem call for some form agreed schedule on both sides. In any event presume that US, if it decides to enter into discussions leading eventually to a schedule agreement, would not accept any arrangement which would increase time gap contemplated by respective original programs.

Above views represent our attempt to present Washington with alternatives available as we see them, and we have at this time not made recommendations, but these will follow shortly.4

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1964–66, AV 12. Secret; Limit Distribution.
  2. Document 115.
  3. U.K. Aviation Minister Jenkins invited Halaby to meet with him and French Minister of Public Works Jacquet in London on February 15. (Memorandum from Johnson to the Acting Secretary, February 5; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1964–66, AV 12–7)
  4. Document 117.