As I announced to the House on 25 July 2007, Official Report, column 865, the future aircraft carriers are expected to enter service in 2014 and 2016.
(2) how many and what type of aircraft will be made available for use on the UK's new aircraft carriers; and if he will make a statement.
The new aircraft carrier has been designed to support, operate and sustain a Joint Force Air Group of up to 40 aircraft, including up to 36 Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA) supported by four Maritime Airborne Surveillance and Control (MASC) aircraft, with the option of other helicopters (for example Merlin Mkl) embarked.
We are currently planning to acquire the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) to meet the JCA requirement. We are assessing the options to fulfil the MASC requirement and will make the decision when the programme achieves sufficient maturity; we currently expect the main investment decision to be around the end of the decade. We will continue to ensure our plans for JCA and MASC remain coherent with the CVF programme.