117. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Kingdom to the Department of State1
3443. Pass personally Halaby,FAA. Embtels 3415 and 3350.2 Reftel attempted present Washington with alternatives facing US re Jenkins proposal. Embassy views on proposal are along following lines:
Believe question SST cooperation must be regarded in wider context than simply aviation. Events of last few months have more than ever involved entire UK Government including PM in SST problem. Assume French Government involvement similar. Result is that reasonable degree of success on Concorde program must be considered important national objective. Failure to achieve this objective, particularly when cause can be ascribed to US intransigence, may well have adverse effect on major US aims vis-à-vis UK and France.
For these reasons Embassy believes in over-all US interest to enter into discussions with British and French and reach at least timetable agreement on development respective SSTs. See no particular reason, however, why necessary reach agreement on aircraft characteristics, sales agreements, and industry cooperation (items 2–4 in Embtel 3350) if not sensible from aviation viewpoint.
Even on aviation grounds there appears to be some merit in stabilizing respective timetables. Current official target date for Concorde is 1971. Embassy estimates more realistic date for original program is 1972. Without outside competitive pressures consider likely Anglo-French re-examination of details and attempt develop more efficient program would delay completion of program by 1 to 2 years, i.e. to 1973 or 74. On other hand, given US program which UK/Fr might reckon would endanger early lead, governments would attempt keep Concorde as close to original timetable as possible. Embassy doubts that current British efforts to reduce near term commitments would stand in the way of accelerated activity on Concorde if UK/Fr saw time lead slipping away.
Washington, of course, in better position evaluate completion date US SST program. All estimates Embassy has seen indicate US SST might be 2–4 years later than Concorde, i.e. 1973–75. Understand anticipated substantial advantages US SST over Concorde such that lag not expected affect materially prospects of US project. However, there seems [Page 216] to be general consensus in US that US should not proceed with production until basic economic and technical problems resolved.
Thus, it appears to Embassy that US has much to gain and little to lose by entering into stabilizing agreement. First, we would be in a position to develop and complete a sensible program with adequate time to resolve current difficult problems without looking over our shoulder at the competition. Second, an acceptable time lag position would be assured for the US thus permitting ultimate exploration superior performance of US aircraft. Third, a sensible UK program will permit more effective use of that nation’s limited resources, and thus strengthen its role as an important US ally. Embassy notes that Halaby will have only one day with Jenkins during forthcoming FAA/MOA meetings. While this would presumably allow only conceptual exploration of possible agreement, see no reason why details could not be worked out in FAUSST committee.3
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1964–66, AV 12. Secret. Repeated to Paris.↩
- Documents 115 and 116.↩
- Reference is to the French-Anglo-U.S. meeting on SST airworthiness standards. No record of the first meeting, presumably held in January 1965, has been found. Regarding the second meeting, see Document 120.↩