Britain to Sign Contract for New Aircraft Carriers
Britain is set to sign a long-awaited $7.8b deal to build two aircraft carriers, which will be the Royal Navy's largest ever ships and are set for 50 years of service.
The 65,000-ton carriers are said to be called Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales and will enter service in 2014 and 2016.
The manufacturing contract is going to a consortium that includes a shipbuilding joint venture being set up between two British companies, BAE Systems (BAESY) and VT Group. Other members include Britain's Babcock International Group (BCKIF) and France's Thales, which designed the ships.
Final signing of the contract had been expected earlier this year but was delayed.
The new carriers will be much smaller than their U.S. counterparts, whose next generation, also due to start in service in the middle of the next decade, will displace 100,000 tons and carry upwards of 75 aircraft.
The joint venture between the two largest British shipbuilders, under which VT has an option to sell its stake to BAE, is key to VT's attempts to be entirely focused on support services.