124. Memorandum of Conversation1
- Visit of Stephen Enke, DOD, to France and the UK Regarding Supersonic Transport Matters
- Dr. Stephen Enke, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
- J. Robert Schaetzel, Deputy Assistant Secretary of European Affairs
- Stanley Harris, European Integration Affairs (EUR/RPE)
- J. Bruce Amstutz, Aviation Liaison Division (E/OA/AL)
Dr. Enke stated that the letter of January 21, 1966, from Stanley Cleveland in Embassy Paris was a good description but not a complete one of his talks in Paris.2 The objective of his visit to the Department of State was to relate further what took place in Paris and London.
Dr. Enke stated that Mr. Vergnaud, Director of Transport (Civil Aviation), expressed interest in a tripartite agreement among the US-UK-France to delay the introduction of the Concorde and the US SST. Mr. Vergnaud said, however, that in view of the rebuff from the U.S. of February 1965, the ball was in the US court to take any initiative. Dr. Enke suggested to Mr. Vergnaud that he might wish to raise the subject with the two private members of the President’s SST Advisory Committee, Eugene R. Black and Stanley de J. Osborne, when they pass through Paris in the near future.
Dr. Enke added that the French also continued to be interested in a share-the-market agreement whereby the Concorde would be developed to serve shorter distances than the US SST.
In London, Dr. Enke held discussions with various UK Ministry of Aviation and Treasury officials. It was clear to him from these talks that some British officials were unhappy about the UK being associated with the Concorde. They believed that UK participation was a basically political decision to facilitate future British entry into the EEC. To withdraw from the project might result in about a $500 million indemnity to France. Mr. Schaetzel said he was skeptical that UK participation in the Concorde project was political. He suspected that the project appeals to UK and aircraft manufacturers who fear further contraction of the British aviation industry.[Page 227]
Dr. Enke stated that the British appeared also to be quite interested in a tripartite extension agreement but said, like Mr. Vergnaud, that any initiative would have to come from the US in view of the decision of February 1965. Dr. Enke believed that the British would be pleased to stretch out the Concorde program to lessen the annual financial commitment for R&D funds and to gain time to produce a better aircraft. Dr. Enke suggested to the British that if they were interested in a tripartite agreement, they raise the question privately with Mr. Black and Mr. Osborne during their visits to London.
Dr. Enke said that his interest in seeing a tripartite agreement concluded was based on his conviction that a better US SST and a better Concorde would be built if several more years were allowed for their development. He felt that the schedules of the SST development programs on both sides of the Atlantic were much too fast to produce economical aircraft.
Mr. Schaetzel asked if Dr. Enke could prepare and send the Department an economic study and justification for a tripartite agreement.3 Dr. Enke said he would do so. Mr. Schaetzel said that when it was received, the Department would study it and let him know its views.