The US Navy has awarded a $15.2bn contract modification to Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding division to build two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

The multi-ship contract comes after the US Navy expressed its intention to pursue a block-purchase of two Ford-class aircraft carriers in a bid to save money.

According to the Navy, the deal is expected to deliver savings of more than $4bn to the government.

Under the contract, HII will provide the detail design and construct the Gerald R Ford-class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers Enterprise (CVN 80) and CVN 81.

Newport News Shipbuilding president Jennifer Boykin said: “Today’s announcement is a triumphant step toward returning to a 12-ship aircraft carrier fleet and building the 355-ship Navy our nation needs.

“Most importantly for us, it provides stability into the year 2032 for our workforce and for our supplier businesses across the US.”

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"Most importantly for us, it provides stability into the year 2032 for our workforce and for our supplier businesses across the US."

HII expects to deliver Enterprise and the yet to be named CVN 81 in 2028 and 2032, respectively.

Enterprise and CVN 81 are the third and fourth ships, respectively, of the Ford-class.

US Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said: “Focusing on optimising construction activities and material procurement, the team was able to achieve significant savings as compared to individual procurement contracts.

“One contract for construction of the two ships will enable the shipbuilder flexibility to best employ its skilled workforce to design once and build twice for unprecedented labour reductions while providing stability and opportunities for further efficiencies within the nuclear industrial base.”

The contract will also offer a further $100m savings in ship integration costs of several modifications, including the F-35C Lightning II, MK 38 gun system and MQ-25 Stingray Unmanned Aircraft System.

The US Navy noted that the modifications will enhance the capabilities of the Ford-class.