95. Memorandum From Secretary of State Vance to President Carter1


  • Sudanese Desire to Purchase F–5 Aircraft and Air Defense Radar

The Joint State/Defense Survey Team which went to Sudan in August at my direction to formulate recommendations for appropriate U.S. contributions to that country’s defense needs2 has concluded that Sudan’s most pressing defense need is for an improved air defense capability, including early warning radar and interceptor aircraft. This conclusion is consistent with the December 1976 Sudanese request for F–5’s and associated radar. Although the report does not specifically recommend the acquisition of U.S. equipment, its presentation to the Sudanese later this month is expected to trigger an early reiteration of Sudan’s past request for F–5s and associated equipment. We therefore must consider our response to the anticipated Sudanese request.

I recommend that you approve the sale of one squadron of F–5’s and associated air defense radar. These together with a training program would be the most significant U.S. contributions to an initial 2–3 year phase of a multi-year military improvement program. U.S. participation if any in subsequent phases will be subject to later review. The cost of the aircraft would be about $78 million and the radar $31 million. Sudan has assured us that it will have Saudi financial support without which the sale can not proceed.

I believe we should agree to this sale because:

—it will add new momentum to improving U.S.-Sudanese relations;

—it will be welcomed by the Saudis and others as a sign of U.S. support for moderate Arab and African regimes;

—it responds in a modest way to a projected imbalance in aircraft inventories between Sudan and Ethiopia without trying to match the magnitude of Soviet deliveries to Ethiopia.

The sale would be consistent with our arms transfer guidelines.

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—it will not introduce into the region a higher level of combat capability. F–5’s are already in the inventories of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia. Ethiopia is awaiting and Libya already has the longer-range MIG–23.

—the number of U.S. military personnel required to support the sale would be only about 10 for two years, with another 6 contract or DOD civilians.

ACDA concurs in this view.


That you authorize me (1) to inform the government of Sudan that we are prepared to respond favorably to their request of December 1976 to purchase one squadron of F–5 aircraft and associated air defense radar; (2) to request the Department of Defense to begin discussions with Sudanese officials to develop the necessary Letters of Offer and Acceptance and to provide the Congress with the related section 36(b) certification.3

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 69, Sudan: 1/77–5/80. Secret.
  2. In telegram 172111 to Khartoum, July 22, the Department reported that Vance had requested that the Department of Defense complete a military survey of Sudan before Ramadan, which started on August 15. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770262–1160)
  3. Carter checked the “Approve” option and signed “J. Carter.”