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Washington Reports Johnson Promised More Skyhawks for Israel, but No Phantom Jets

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Informed sources reported here this weekend that President Johnson promised Prime Minister Levi Eshkol that the United States will send more A-4s – the Skyhawk fighter bomber – to Israel, to help her maintain military superiority over the Arab states. These sources said that, while no specific number of the aircraft was set, Israel would probably get 20 planes, roughly a squadron. Delivery will probably follow that of 48 Skyhawks – three squadrons – being sent to Israel under a sales agreement concluded in 1966 which is expected to be completed late this year, the sources said.

Israeli sources meanwhile reported that President Johnson responded “affirmatively” to Mr. Eshkol’s requests for weapons aid and agreed with the Prime Minister that both the United States and Israel were interested in creating secure and recognized borders between Israel and the Arab states. However, these sources said, the President made no commitment to Mr. Eshkol on an Israeli request for 50 F-4 Phantom jets, the most advanced operational plane in the American arsenal. Israel had been pressing vigorously for the Phantoms as well as additional Skyhawks, in order to offset Soviet military shipments to the Arab states. In the joint communique with Mr. Eshkol, a week ago, President Johnson indicated that Soviet arms deliveries to the Middle East would be a key factor in future consideration of Israeli requests.

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