Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) this week said the construction of the Royal Navy’s two future Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers continues to gain momentum with the announcement of about $117 million in equipment sub-contracts for several U.K. based companies.

“The Aircraft Carrier Alliance has now placed sub-contracts for almost 40 percent of the total value of the materials and equipments required to build both ships, and we are pressing ahead into full scale production in the shipyards,” Tony Graham, head of Capital Ships within MoD’s Defence Equipment & Support branch, said.

Glasgow-based Ticon UK received about $83 million to supply the insulation systems throughout the ship to prevent the transfer of noise and heat and protect the ship from the spread of fire. MoD said this contract would sustain about 350 jobs.

Thales UK was awarded about $36 million for communications systems. Onboard, the company’s Tactical, Command and Control Voice System (TC2V) will ensure crew access to information communication with colleagues across the ship at all times. The system will use Internet networks to transmit data and voice in the same way as modern businesses and offices communicate.

Externally, Thales will supply its Series 8000 HF (High Frequency) system to provide long-range communications among the ship, other vessels and land bases.

In addition to this contract, Thales UK is responsible for leading the platform design and aviation teams, participating in the mission systems team and delivering the propulsion systems that will power the strategically-important warships, it said.

Last month Her Majesty the Queen gave her formal approval for the new class of aircraft carrier to be known as the Queen Elizabeth-class. The giant hull sections that will make up the ships have been in construction since December of last year.

Last summer, MoD awarded about $5.9 billion in contracts to build the two large carriers (Defense Daily, July 7).

Contractors receiving the awards included the joint venture BVT Surface Fleet (involving VT Group and BAE SYSTEMS), and the Aircraft Carrier Alliance.

These carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, will be far larger than the current 689-foot Invincible-class British carriers. The new class will stretch 931 feet from bow to stern and displace 65,000 tons.

While the two new carriers initially will be outfitted for traditional Royal Navy jump-jet takeoffs, the new carriers are so large that they could someday be equipped with catapults for American-style carrier takeoffs.

Aircraft that will operate from the carriers include the Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing, or STOVL version of the Lockheed Martin [LMT] F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), which also will be purchased by the U.S. Marine Corps.

MoD is helping to finance development of the JSF, and then is expected to purchase the planes. Northrop Grumman [NOC] and BAE are also playing major roles in JSF, each firm building a large portion of each plane.