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129 Attlee to Chifley

Cablegram 316 LONDON, 20 September 1946, 5.20 p.m.


United Kingdom Government have considered the report of
Lieutenant-General Evetts's Mission to investigate the possibility
of providing facilities in Australia for research and development
work on guided missiles and supersonic pilotless aircraft.

2. We for our part agree with the recommendation of the Mission
which has since been endorsed by the informal Commonwealth
Conference on Defence Science, that an experimental range and a
supporting development establishment should be set up in
Australia. We also accept the recommendation of the Mission as
regards the area to be used for the range.

3. We should be glad to learn whether the Commonwealth Government
are in agreement with these two recommendations. If so, we think
that the first step should be to instal the necessary facilities
at the range-head and along the first 300 miles of the range, and
that the remainder of the range area should be reserved for future
use as and when required. For this purpose we should like, if you
agree, to send Evetts to Australia again, accompanied by a small
technical staff, to collaborate with the Commonwealth authorities
concerned in the detailed planning and execution of the project.

Evetts would serve in a civilian capacity.

4. As regards the supporting development establishment further
consideration is needed to determine the details of the programme
of development and to what extent the development work can and
should be carried out in Australia. We recognise the desirability
of carrying out as much of this work as possible in proximity to
the experimental range. While the Salisbury factory appears at
first sight to be suitable for conversion into a development
establishment as recommended by the Evetts Mission, we should like
to examine this aspect of the matter in more detail before
definitely asking the Commonwealth Government to allocate the
whole or part of the factory for this purpose. It is hoped that in
the meantime the Commonwealth Government will be able to hold the
factory in reserve.

5. We have given a good deal of thought to the question of the
arrangements which will be required for settling between our two
Governments questions of policy arising in connection with the
project. There is a good deal of technical information and
knowledge in the United Kingdom, and our suggestion is that some
special joint body on which both our Governments would be
represented should be set up in London for reaching decisions
about such questions. We could formulate a detailed scheme if this
suggestion is acceptable to you in principle. It would be
understood that the Commonwealth Government would be in charge of
the executive arrangements for installing and maintaining the
facilities to agreed requirements at the range and the development

6. The initial capital cost of buildings and other works services
for the range head and the first 300 miles of the range is
tentatively estimated at (A)3 millions (including the cost of 60
miles of railway between the range head and the nearest point on
the trans-continental line). We think that operating costs may
eventually be about (A)3 millions annually, including the cost of
experimental firings. This expenditure forms only part of the
total expenditure on a programme of research and development on
guided missiles and pilotless supersonic aircraft, and we are, of
course, bearing all that part of this expenditure which is
incurred in the United Kingdom. Part of the expenditure on the
range and development establishment in Australia will be incurred
in Australia and part in the United Kingdom, but we are not yet
able to indicate how the total expenditure will be split
geographically. We should like to suggest, however, that a
decision should be taken in principle now that the Commonwealth
and United Kingdom Governments should bear respectively that part
of the expenditure in connection with this project which is
incurred in Australia and the United Kingdom. If this suggestion
is agreeable to your Government, detailed financial arrangements
can be worked out later.

7. I am anxious that rapid progress should be made in establishing
this range, which is of the highest strategic importance. Evetts
and the chief scientific officer of his party would propose to
leave the United Kingdom by sea about 8th October, the remainder
of the party following by air to reach Australia about the same
time as Evetts.

8. I should be glad if you could let me know your views upon these
suggestions as soon as you conveniently can.

[AA:A3317/1, 333/46]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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