A joint venture between the United Kingdom’s BAE Systems and the VT Group is expected to shortly sign a contract with the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) for the Royal Navy’s next two super aircraft carriers, according to the MoD.

The MoD announced Tuesday the plan to forge ahead on building the two carriers. BAE and VT Group will now press forward with forming the joint venture, VT Group, the defense and support services company, said in a statement it welcomes the announcement by the MoD that it intends to proceed to the manufacturing stage in the project.

“VT and BAE Systems will now finalize arrangements for the joint venture combining their shipbuilding and naval support businesses, following the framework agreement signed in July 2007. VT and BAE expect the [joint venture] transaction documentation to be signed shortly and the agreement will then be subject to VT shareholder approval,” the U.K.-based company said.

The joint venture, to be formed by BAE Systems and VT Group, will be a key member of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance of companies which will construct and assemble the new carriers at shipyards in Portsmouth, Barrow-in-Furness, Glasgow and Rosyth, according to the MoD.

The carriers, to be named HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, will be the biggest and most powerful surface warships ever constructed in the U.K. Once they enter service in 2014 and 2016, respectively, they are expected to remain in the fleet for up to 50 years, according to the MoD.

“The two aircraft carriers will provide our front line forces with the modern, world-class capabilities they will need over the coming decades. They will support peace-keeping and conflict prevention as well as our strategic operational priorities,” Des Browne, Secretary of State for Defence, said. “This is an important day for the project and I am delighted that we are moving closer to signing the contracts for the manufacture of the carriers.”

This is an important milestone in the development of the CVF program and plays a major part in the long term sustainability of the U.K. naval sector and the transformation of our business, BAE’s Chief Executive Mike Turner said. “The program will provide a strong order book and forward workload over the coming years and, most importantly will provide our armed forces with significantly enhanced capability.”

Both carriers will be capable of carrying 40 aircraft, including Lockheed Martin‘s [LMT] short take-off vertical landing F-35B, or 25 Boeing [BA] Chinook helicopters. The ships will have a complement of 1,450 (including embarked air crew and support staff), and will be equipped with the latest generation of Raytheon‘s [RTN] Phalanx close-in weapon system for ship self defense, according to the MoD.

The Queen Elizabeth and the Prince of Wales will each be powered by Rolls-Royce MT30 Gas Turbines, the MoD said.

The carriers will have a range of 8,000 to 10,000 nautical miles.