Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Defence review: New fighter jets are 'good news' for Portsmouth

CGI of F35B Lightening II landing on QE Class aircraft carrier Image copyright PA
Image caption Two new squadrons of F35 aircraft are to be purchased for use on the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers

The government's purchase of more fighter jets is "good news" for Portsmouth, an MP said.

Prime Minister David Cameron said 24 F35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft would be provided for two new aircraft carriers to be based at the city.

The Queen Elizabeth class vessels are due to come in to service by 2018, with the bombers following by 2023.

Flick Drummond, MP for Portsmouth South, said the announcement was "very good news" for the city.

It comes a year after shipbuilding in the city came to an end with the loss of almost 1,000 jobs.

The announcement came as part of the government's Strategic Defence and Security Review.

HMS Queen Elizabeth and the HMS Prince of Wales, being built in Scotland, are to be based in Portsmouth.

The first can carry 40 jets and helicopters at a time. It will have a permanent crew of almost 1,600.

They are the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy.

'More opportunities'

Ms Drummond said: "It is very good news.

Image copyright Lockheed Martin
Image caption The US military also has a version of the F35 Joint Strike Fighter

"BAE is one of our biggest employers and they will be given a lot of extra work to do.

"There will be more opportunities for people in Portsmouth."

The aircraft carriers "form the core of our maritime task group, with one available at all times", the government said.

"We will increase the number of F35 Lightning aircraft we are buying in the early-2020s to ensure that we make best use of this world-leading capability, and we will buy three new logistic ships to support the fleet, in addition to the four tankers that will enter service from 2016."

Analysis: Steve Humphrey, BBC South Today

After the severe cuts the Royal Navy suffered in 2010, this year's Strategic Defence and Security Review has been much kinder to the senior service.

Navy chiefs are going to get the number of F35 jets they needed to realise the dream of regenerating the UK's Portsmouth-based "carrier strike" capability.

The Navy will also be allowed to recruit an extra 400 sailors.

Along with internal changes they will generate 700 crew needed for the first of the new carriers.

The Navy says "it is delighted with what has been achieved - with the first expansion in the size of the Navy since WW2".

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