BAE to take lead in £2.9 billion carrier contract

The government has selected BAE Systems to take the lead role in the construction of two new £2.9 billion aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy.

The Royal Navy’s new generation of aircraft carriers will be designed and built by an alliance between the Ministry of Defence and industry, bringing together the UK’s best design capability and project management expertise, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon announced today.

Subject to detailed final negotiations, BAE Systems will take the leading position as preferred prime contractor, with Thales UK performing a major role as key supplier.

The project will develop the carrier design put forward by Thales UK. The ships will be designed and built entirely in the United Kingdom, with shipyards at Babcock BES at Rosyth in Scotland, BAE Systems on the Clyde, Swan Hunter in the North East and Vosper Thornycroft at Portsmouth playing key roles, creating or sustaining around 10,000 jobs in the United Kingdom.

The two vessels, which are expected to displace around 60,000 tonnes each, will be the largest and most powerful surface warships ever built in the UK. They will be equipped with the world’s most advanced stealthy and supersonic jump-jet, the Lockheed Martin F35.

‘Proposals put forward by BAES Systems and Thales UK have been considered carefully,’ said Mr Hoon ‘Both proposals have significant strengths. But the design and construction of these immensely powerful vessels will make huge demands on the UK’s industrial resources.

‘We envisage that this strong Alliance will allow us to combine the considerable capabilities and expertise of both contractors to ensure this important new capability for the Royal Navy is delivered to time and to budget.’