Naval Swiss Army Knife: MK 41 Vertical Missile Launch Systems (VLS)
March 21/16: Lockheed Martin is to restart production on its MK 41 Vertical Launching System with a ribbon-cutting ceremony planned its Middle River plant in Baltimore County, Maryland on March 24. According to an invitation to media, the MK 41 VLS is “the only launching system capable [sic] launching anti-air, anti-submarine, surface-to-surface and strike missiles and can receive orders from multiple weapon control systems to handle every warfighting mission.” The news comes as Lockheed was awarded a potential three-year $197.6 million contract modification to carry out computer program baseline development work on the US Navy’s Aegis combat systems, of which the MK 41 is a core component.
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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