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20 May 08. The Ministry of Defence today gave industry the green light that it was ready to go-ahead with contract signature for the two new super aircraft carriers. The carriers are planned to be about 280m long by 70m wide, will displace 65,000 tonnes full load and carry up to 40 aircraft.

Industry is now expected to press ahead with forming the joint venture company that will help build the carriers. The joint venture to be formed by BAE Systems and VT Group will be a key member of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance of companies which will construct and assemble the new carriers at shipyards in Portsmouth, Barrow-in-Furness, Glasgow and Rosyth. Other members of the Alliance include Babcock, Thales UK, BAE Systems Submarine Solutions at Barrow and BAE Systems Integrated System Technologies (Insyte). In addition to a manufacture contract all parties will sign a legally binding Alliance Agreement.

The carriers, to be named HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and HMS PRINCE OF WALES, will be the biggest and most powerful surface warships ever constructed in the UK. Once they enter service in 2014 and 2016 respectively they are expected to remain in the fleet for up to fifty years.

Secretary of State for Defence, Des Browne said, “The two aircraft carriers will provide our front line forces with the modern, world-class capabilities they will need over the coming decades. They will support peace-keeping and conflict prevention as well as our strategic operational priorities. This is an important day for the project and I am delighted that we are moving closer to signing the contracts for the manufacture of the carriers.”

Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Baroness Taylor, said, “Today’s confirmation that we are proceeding with the two aircraft carriers underlines our commitment to both the Royal Navy and to the UK shipbuilding industry. We are investing about £14bn in the Navy and in the maritime industry over the next ten to fifteen years. The future carriers will provide an important military capability and will sustain many jobs – around 10,000 at the peak of production.”

First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Sir Jonathon Band said, “I am of course delighted with today’s news which, when the Joint Venture is formed, will enable the Ministry of Defence and industry to sign the contract for the two new aircraft carriers. These ships with their aircraft will transform the UK’s defence capabilities when they enter service, delivering air power in support of the full range of future operations at sea, in the air and on land.”

Today’s programme update confirms that the MoD has completed all the necessary financial, commercial, and management arrangements, and has provided written assurances to industry that we are ready to sign contracts as soon as the new shipbuilding joint venture that will be part of the Alliance of companies constructing the vessels has been formed.

On 4 March, the MoD announced the contract award for a number of long-lead items for the two aircraft carriers, including for the steel that will be used to build the ships. On 11 February, a £35m contract was signed by Babcock Engineering Services with Glasgow-based subcontractors Edmund Nuttall Limited to
modify the docks in order to accommodate the building of the carriers and widen its direct entrance.

BAE Systems welcomed the announcement by the UK Ministry of Defence that it intends to proceed to the manufacturing stage in the project to build two new 65,000 tonne aircraft carriers (CVF) for the Royal Navy.
The move will enable BAE Systems and VT Group to progress finalisation of the arrangements for BVT Surface Fleet, the Joint Venture (JV) combining their shipbuilding and naval support businesses, following the framework agreement signed in July 2007. BAE Systems and VT Group expect the JV transaction documentation to be signed shortly. The agreement will then be subject to VT s

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