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Congress Hears Plea for Allowing Israel to Acquire U.S. Military Aircraft Replacements

Charging that the United States Government has refused to deliver military aircraft to Israel, Chairman Robert L.F. Sikes of the Military Construction Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee told Congress today that “obviously, the Arabs know of this country’s refusal to help Israel and this encourages Arab belligerency.”

Rep. Sikes, a Florida Democrat, said that “refusal on our part to help Israel is most untimely and it could produce highly undesirable results. Israel should be allowed to acquire needed replacements of aircraft and spares from available U.S. stocks in areas other than those required for Vietnam.” He said that the U.S. official position “is resulting in a very serious problem for the only friend we have left in the Mideast.”

The Congressman held that “in part as a result of efforts to put a brake on the sale of American military equipment abroad, Israel again is being confronted with a threatening situation from Arab nations.” He pointed out that “Israel’s losses in aircraft were moderate, but there have been no replacements for these losses. More serious is their inability to get spares–engines and parts–with which to maintain first line efficiency on the aircraft remaining in the Israel inventory.”

Rep. Sikes stressed that “France is now refusing to help Israel with supplies. The failure of the United States to do so leaves Israel with no reliable source of aircraft and spares.” He noted “by contrast, the Arab forces, whose equipment was heavily depleted by the effectiveness of the Israeli strategy, are being resupplied rapidly by the Russians.” Rep. Sikes recalled that “control of the air was a vital part in the smashing success enjoyed by Israeli forces” and continues to be vital.

Admiral Thomas H. Moore, the new Chief of Naval Operations, said today that during the Arab-Israeli war, the Soviet Union doubled its naval strength in the Mediterranean, bringing it to more than 20 ships — about half the size of the U.S. Sixth Fleet. He said that the Russians were now unusually active in the Mediterranean and that such activity was increasing. The admiral saw the shift in that region by Russia to a new sea posture, from defense to offense, as one of the major problems facing the U.S. Navy.

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