Mark 41 Vertical Launch System

Mark 41 Vertical Launch System
A Tomahawk missile being launched by the United States Navy destroyer USS Sterett from its Mark 41 Vertical Launch System

The Mark 41 Vertical Launch System (Mk 41 VLS) is a shipborne missle canister launching system which provides a rapid-fire launch capability against hostile threats.[1] The Vertical Launch System (VLS) concept was derived from work on the Aegis Combat System.[2] Refinement of the concept continued through the 1960s and 1970s, and the Mk 41 was conceived in 1976.[2] Originally, the system was only intended to fire the RIM-66 Standard missile, but after the United States Navy devided that all VLS had to be capable of firing the Tomahawk missile, with a consequential increase in the height of the Mk 41 to accommodate the larger missile.[2] The first launcher was installed aboard USS Bunker Hill.[2]

The Mk 41 is capable of firing the following missiles: Standard 1 and 2, Tomahawk, RUR-5 ASROC, RIM-7 Sea Sparrow, and RIM-162 ESSM.[2] The missiles are pre-loaded into 'canisters', which are then loaded into the individual 'cells' of the launcher (the exception is the ESSM: up to four canisters can fit into each launcher cell).[2] Launcher cells are fitted to ships in 2x4 modules that share a common exhaust system sited between the two rows.[2] Originally, one module would consist of five cells and a collapsible crane for assisting with replenishment at sea, but replenishment of large missiles at sea was impractical and dangerous, and modules with the cranes fell out of use.[2]

The Mk 41 is used by the United States, Australian, Canadian, German, Japanese, Turkish, New Zealand, and Thai navies,[2] along with other nations operating former or US-built vessels.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Mark 41 Vertical Launching System". Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Friedman, Norman (2006). The Naval Institute Guide to World Naval Weapon Systems (5th ed.). Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. p. 600. 

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