Naval Air: May 3, 2002


Thales, prime contractor for Britain's new aircraft carriers, has come up with a novel way to employ modern technology to improve efficiency and keep the industrial base intact. What this means is that each of the two new aircraft carriers will be built in five separate self-contained sections, each in a different shipyard; the sections will then be assembled. Each of the various British shipyards (all of whom get enough work to stay in business, few of which could build a ship this large) would bid on various sections with the best bid winning each, and the less efficient yards building the smaller and less profitable sections. Because the ship is built in smaller pieces, smaller shipyards can compete for a piece of the puzzle (err., ship) and force the cost further down. Each shipyard would build the same section twice (once for each carrier) to take advantage of the learning curve.--Stephen V Cole


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