The UK Royal Navy has plans to share its aircraft carriers with French forces to cut costs while maintaining its military strength.

The arrangement would mean that one of three ships (one French and two British) would be protecting UK interests at sea at all times.

The sharing proposal would also allow the UK to stop work on two replacement carriers costing £5.2m under construction, according to the Daily Mail.

UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox will discuss a possible share arrangement with French counterparts on 3 September.

The proposal is expected to be announced in a summit in November 2010.

The ministry is also considering other options that include scrapping one carrier, building it to a lower specification or selling it to another nation.