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The Defence Secretary said reverting to the jump jet would also open the possibility that both carriers could become operational and one would not have to be mothballed as planned under the SDSR.
Nevertheless the decision will be an embarrassment for the Prime Minister who strongly criticised the original decision by Labour to choose the jump jet, commentators said.
The decision to scrap the aircraft carrier Ark Royal and the Harrier jump jet fleet has undermined the armed forces' ability to mount crucial operations, leading military figures have warned David Cameron.
SOME OF THE BIG CUTS The Ark Royal, launched in 1985, will be decommissioned immediately, rather than in 2014 The construction of two new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, will go ahead, but will not carry planes until 2019 The navy will lose 5,000 personnel and its surface fleet will be cut from 23 to 19 Some squadrons of RAF Tornado jets will be saved - although some air force bases will close The Army will have to cut up to 7,000 or so personnel over the next five years, and tanks will be reduced by 40 per cent The Ministry of Defence itself will cut its civilian personnel by 25,000 by 2015 The Harrier jump jet will be retired and RAF manpower will be reduced by 5,000 to 33,000 by 2015
Aerospace firm Lockheed Martin, which won the contract, is drawing on the expertise of BAE in the Harrier jump jet, a British creation.
But last May Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the MOD was reverting to the jump jet version amid fears over spiralling costs.
However last May, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond announced the MoD was reverting to the jump jet version amid fears the costs of fitting the necessary catapults and arrestor gear - "cats and traps" - were spiralling out of control.
YESTERDAY''S article (December 16) on the retirement of that remarkable military aircraft, the Harrier jump jet, brought back memories for me.
While Cheryl was lagging behind a Harrier Jump Jet and followed closely by the Lamborghini Diablo.
If Jump Jet wins the 3m hurdle, I'm not sure how much I'll win, but it's quite a lot.
Which company launched the Harrier jump jet in 1966?
The landing - which ended with the jump jet ploughing into a fence - has highlighted local residents' fears of a disaster that could be caused by a crash or similar incident.