Naval Swiss Army Knife: MK 41 Vertical Missile Launch Systems (VLS)
July 8/16: Chile’s Navy is to receive MK 41 Vertical Launching Systems (VLS) armed with the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSMs). The systems and missiles will be installed as part of upgrades on three UK-built Type 23 frigates at a cost of $140 million. Raytheon, BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin are the contractors implementing the upgrade. At present, the former Royal Navy frigates operate the legacy GWS-26 Sea Wolf anti-air missiles so the ESSM’s represent a significant upgrade in capabilities.
The naval MK 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) hides missiles below decks in vertical slots, with key electronics and venting systems built in. A deck and hatch assembly at the top of the module protects the missile canisters from the elements, and from other hazards during storage. Once the firing sequence begins, the hatches open to permit missile launches of various types. It is also being adapted for land use, as part of the USA’s plan to forward-deploy ballistic missile defense in allied countries.
The Mk.41 is the most widely-used naval VLS in the world, in service with the US Navy and with many countries outside the United States. Lockheed Martin is the system’s prime contractor, with components and canisters provided by BAE Systems Land & Armaments. In September 2011, however, the US Navy assumed the final integrator role.
A Naval Swiss Army Knife: The MK 41 VLS
The Housing: VLS Cells
The Blades: Canisters & Inserts
MK 41 VLS Contracts
FY 2009- 2010
FY 2006 – 2007
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