57. Telegram 70798 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Libya1 2


  • Future US Relationship with Libyan Air Force


  • (a) State 25239
  • (b) Tripoli 360 (notal)
  • (c) Tripoli 565


Following instructions should be held for presentation upon Ambassador Palmer’s return. After careful consideration Libyan and general area factors, we have decided that we should take following positions re LARG requests for LARAF support:
Ambassador would start out with general statement his impressions of his Washington visit with principal emphasis on desire USG for friendly relations with LARG. He would state that he had found in Washington a considerable concern [Page 2] over the course of Libyan-US relations. Our government had in mind the professions of desire for a new relationship after we agreed to leave Wheelus. Instead we have experienced moves against both the official and private American community. We have not seen the development of the new relationship as we had hoped.
Ambassador goes on to say he had been asked to reiterate to LARG at highest levels that the United States fully accepts the change in government in Libya and has no desire or intention to interfere in its internal affairs. We would hope this could be reciprocated by a lessening of the apparent suspicion directed toward us by some in the Libyan Government.
We recognize the differences which exist between us in the view of the Arab-Israel issue. Even here, we feel that the Government of Libya has not taken sufficient note of the moves made by the United States toward a balanced policy in the area.
Ambassador would then lead into subject of the additional eight F–5s confirming that question of their delivery has been under review.
We wish to confirm that, after some slippage because of a Northrop strike, production of the aircraft is proceeding normally amid present indications are that the planes will be ready for delivery in January and February 1971. We also wish confirm that no action has been taken or is contemplated to divert these planes to other possible purchasers.
As LARG is aware, the terms of the letter of offer permit the USG to cancel all or part of the order at any time prior to delivery “under unusual and compelling circumstances when the best interests of the US require it” (Clause A–6). An option to cancel is, of course, also open to the LARG (Clause B–4). These were standard provisions in all such sales contracts and are intended to enable either party to review the situation at any time prior to delivery in the light of circumstances at the time.
We do not believe current situation provides basis for a definite decision now to proceed with deliveries which will not in any event take place for another nine or ten months; neither do we wish to take any prejudicial action at this time. Consequently, we have taken a deliberate decision not to invoke Clause A–6 of the letter of offer at this time but to make our decision on the basis of the general area situation and the developing relationships between the two countries much closer to the time of actual delivery.
We hope that our reasons for thus deferring a decision will be understandable to the LARG. Meanwhile, we are prepared to carry out the following actions in accordance original contract:
USG is prepared to accept five pilots qualified for assignment to F–5 pilot up-grade spaces and to place them in training beginning in late May 1970. Actual flying training would begin in October. Provision of spaces would, of course, be on sales basis. You should remind LARG that courses to [Page 5] be preceded by up to 15 rpt 15 weeks English language training, depending on English comprehension level (ECL). (ECL of 80 required prior to F–5 up-grade training.) We will continue to provide other training on a course-available basis for qualified trainees. FYI: We wish to keep number trainees at minimum and believe both course availability and non-availability qualified candidates will accomplish this. END FYI.
Pursuant para 1(b) State 25239 you may also inform LARG we willing sell reduced quantities ammunition requested by LARG. Procurement led time on most items (if we cannot release from stock) is 12 months after receipt of accepted FMS case. We anticipate, however, that we could obtain release of partial and possibly full quantities of most items from stock in approximately 90 days. (Details in septel.) FYI: Foregoing quantities of munitions based on USCINCEUR planning factors for all countries under CINCEUR jurisdiction. Factors take into account reasonable sortie rates, mix of munitions most likely to be carried by F–5, and anticipated [Page 6] aircraft commission and attrition rates. Quantities are comparable with quantities WRM furnished through grant aid and FMS to other African countries. END FYI.
Remainder State 25239 still applies (NORAIR contract, spare parts, C–130s and military liaison section to handle military assistance problems).
We would also expect that LARG would proceed with NORAIR contract, thus permitting substantial scaling down of MAAG to level acceptable to both governments.
If queried publicly re present status second F–5 contract, Department will say “Deliveries under the contract are not due until early next year. Meanwhile we intend to keep the matter under continuing review. No further comment.”
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL LIBYA–US. Secret. Drafted by Palmer; cleared by J, AF, AF/N, NEA, L, PM, DOD/ISA, SAFUSI, and Joint Staff; and approved by Rogers. Repeated to Benghazi, CINCEUR, CINCUSAFE, 16th AF TORREJON, and CHMAAG Tripoli.
  2. Secretary of State Rogers instructed Ambassador Joseph Palmer to inform the Libyan Government that while no decision had yet been made about the F–5 sale, the United States was prepared to accept five Libyan pilots for F–5 training.