Defence giant BAE Systems was named by the Government today as the prime contractor in a multi-billion pound order to build two new aircraft carriers.

The contract will create a jobs bonanza across the country.

Four shipyards in Scotland, the North East and Portsmouth will benefit most from the contract, which will safeguard 10,000 jobs and create more than 2,000 posts.

French firm Thales, which also bid for the work, will be given a ''major role'' in building the huge vessels.

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said the Government had decided that a partnership was the best way to build the ships.