WASHINGTON (Oct. 18)
The State Department today denied reports that the United States secretly agreed to help Jordan pay for a large portion of the cost of two squadrons of French Mirage-3-E fighter bombers, supersonic jets that fly at twice the speed of sound.
A report from Amman said Jordan had sought the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter from the United States to modernize her air force. The United States reportedly broke off negotiations to prevent regional escalation. But, when Jordan considered purchasing Soviet MIG-21 supersonic jets, “unimpeachable Jordanian sources “revealed that the United States secretly agreed to underwrite the purchasing of jets by Jordan from Western Europe.
Jordan is expected to contract for 24 to 28 of the ultra-modern French fighter-bombers, said the report. The total cost is about $42,000,000. The United States confirmed today supplying Jordan with tanks and other American weapons. But a spokesman said the United States had made no arrangement to “sell more modern fighters to Jordan.” He added that “we have no agreement to finance French aircraft for Jordan.”
(Informed sources in Paris reported today that France’s reluctance to extend easy credit terms was the main factor holding up the sale of 24 French Mirage jet fighter planes to Jordan, a transaction which has caused considerable concern in Israel.)