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UK mulling to sell aircraft carrier to India: Report


Artist's impression of one of the aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth, which is being built by the BAE Systems. Image credit: Royal Navy

LONDON (PTI): As part of its cost-cutting plans, Britain may sell off one of its new two-billion-pounds aircraft carriers to India which has lodged a firm expression of interest, according to a media report here.

Quoting senior defence sources as saying, The Observer newspaper reported on Sunday that the Whitehall officials are examining the feasibility of such a sale to India under cost-cutting plans being considered by the Ministry of Defence.

However, the sale of one of the two 65,000-tonne vessels would leave the Royal Navy with a single carrier and could force Britain to borrow from the French fleet, which itself has only one carrier and is reluctant to build more, the report said.

Last summer, French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown that the two navies coordinate maintenance and refitting so that one was at sea at all times.

The carrier programme has already been delayed by two years to push back spending commitments, which itself will end up costing the taxpayer more in the long run.

BAE Systems began work in July on HMS Queen Elizabeth, which is due to come into service in 2016. Preparatory work on the Prince of Wales, due for launch in 2018, has also started.

The two carriers will replace the ageing Invincible class and are three times the size.

There were fears that the government could scrap one altogether. But it is understood that the financial penalties would be prohibitive. About 10,000 jobs in Portsmouth, Barrow-in-Furness, Fife and Glasgow depend on the orders.

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