In a widely expected formal announcement, British Defence Secretary Des Browne said on Wednesday that Britain will build two new aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy in the next decade.
The plan to add two medium weight carriers to the fleet has been in the works for some time. If history is any guide, this program will be probably beset by fits and starts. Nevertheless, this is welcome news, as there has been recent talk about cutting back the British fleet. Perhaps this was in response to China's recent intention to build there own carrier. (Here and here.)
"The two aircraft carriers, at the cost of 3.9 billion pounds (8billion U.S. dollars), will be named HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, the defence ministry said.
"They will weigh 65,000 tons each, nearly three times the size of the carriers now in the Royal fleet, the ministry said. The ships are due to enter service in 2014 and 2016, and all of the major work will be done in British shipyards, it said.
"The new carriers, designed for at least 40 years of service, will replace three carriers: HMS Invincible, launched in 1977, HMS Illustrious (1978), and HMS Ark Royal (1981)."
Needless to say, the global security equation is in a major state of flux right now. Undoubtedly, the Chinese decision will trigger a lot of countries to reevaluate their naval requirements.