01 November, 2006

New Royal Navy Aircraft carriers.

In 2012 and 2015 two new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, are due to enter service with the Royal Navy, if they ever get built. A brief history:

In January 2003 the Ministry of Defence announced that the preferred prime contractor for the UK Future Aircraft Carrier is BAE Systems with Thales UK as the key supplier. The industrial partnership between BAE Systems and Thales UK is known as the Future Carrier Alliance. In February 2005, Kellogg, Brown & Root UK (KBR) was appointed as preferred "Physical Integrator" for the project and is responsible for developing the optimum manufacturing strategy. VT Group and Babcock have also joined the Alliance.

In December 2005, the UK MOD approved funding of the demonstration phase for detailed design of the carriers, the first part of the Main Gate decision. The second part, approval for construction, is expected by the end of 2006.

To which can be added, in late 2006 construction approval was being delayed by a row over rising costs. The initial Ministry of Defence estimate was £2.8bn - £3bn. That figure was updated recently to £3.5bn. The consortium building the ships now says they cannot be built or less than £3.8bn. £3.8bn roughly equates to 1p on the basic rate of income tax. The MoD hopes to introduce some sort of incentive scheme which would shave the price down to £3.6bn. Sources have indicated to the Daily Telegraph that the MoD might eventually settle for £3.8bn but there is likely to be trouble from the Treasury.

At this rate, it is not inconceivable that at the time of launching, the Prince of Wales will be King William V's eldest son.

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