Mark 41 Vertical Launching System

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Mk 41 Vertical Launching System
Te Kaha's Anti-Air Missile Armament.jpg
A single 8-cell Mk 41 VLS module fitted to New Zealand frigate HMNZS Te Kaha
Type Missile Launching System
Place of origin United States
Service history
In service 1986 – present
Used by United States Navy
and a number of others
Wars Cold War
Tanker War
Gulf War
Kosovo War
War on Terror
Production history
Designed 1970s
Manufacturer Martin Marietta
Lockheed Martin
Variants Mk 57

The Mark 41 Vertical Launching System (Mk 41 VLS) is a shipborne missile 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 initial concept of Aegis system in the 1960s 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 the height of the Mk 41 was increased to accommodate the larger Tomahawk missile.[2] The prototype for the launcher was tested and evaluated on board USS Norton Sound (AVM-1). The first operational launcher was installed aboard USS Bunker Hill.[2]


Mark 41[edit]

The Mk 41 is capable of firing the following missiles: RIM-66 Standard, RIM-67 Standard, RIM-161 Standard Missile 3, RIM-174 Standard ERAM, RGM-109 Tomahawk, RUM-139 VL-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 ESSM is loaded in a quad-pack with 4 missiles in one Mk 25 canister.[2] Launcher cells are fitted to ships in 8 cell (2 rows of 4) modules that share a common uptake hatch (exhaust system) sited between the two rows.[2] Mk 41 VLS adopts modular design concept, which result in different versions that vary in size and weight due to different "canisters" in various modules. The height (missile length) of the launcher comes in three sizes: 209 inches (5.3 m) for the self-defense version, 266 inches (6.8 m) for the tactical version, and 303 inches (7.7 m) for the strike version. The empty weight for an 8-cell module is 26,800 pounds (12,200 kg) for the self-defense version, 29,800 pounds (13,500 kg) for the tactical version, and 32,000 pounds (15,000 kg) for the strike version.[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 later seen as impractical and dangerous, and modules with the cranes fell out of use.[2]

Mk 57[edit]

Mk 57 VLS

The Mk 57 VLS is an evolution of Mk 41 VLS. Unlike the Mk 41, the Mk 57 is designed to be installed on the ship periphery instead of in centralized magazines. Developed by Raytheon, it provides backwards compatibility with existing missiles while allowing new missiles with significantly increased propulsion and payloads. While allowing for slightly larger missiles than the Mk 41, the primary improvement of Mk 57 is its exhaust gas management system that can accommodate new missile designs having up to 45 percent greater rocket motor mass flow rate than that of Mk 41.[3] The unique symmetric geometry of the U-shaped gas management system facilitates the egress of gases, while minimizing flow into witness cells and reversed flow into the active cell. Another advantage is the elimination of the water deluge system, which is used to cool the missile canister in the event that the missile restraint bolts do not release after rocket motor ignition. Elimination of the water deluge system significantly reduces maintenance and personnel requirements, and protects against accidental missile wet-down.

Vertical Missile Launcher Mk 57 GMVLS specifications [4]
Missiles 4
Width (ft, m) 7.25, 2.21
length (ft, m) 14.2, 4.33
Height (ft, m) 26, 7.93
Weight (lb, kg) 33,600, 15,240
Max. canister width (in, m) 28, 0.71
Max. canister length (in, m) 283, 7.18
Max. encanistered weight (lb, kg) 9,020, 4,091


Mark 41 Mod 0 Vertical Launching System on USS Chosin (CG-65).

According to NAVEDTRA 14324, Gunner's Mate, Chapter 7:


A Tomahawk missile being launched from the Mark 41 Vertical Launching System aboard US Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Farragut (DDG-99)
 New Zealand
 Republic of China
 South Korea
 United Kingdom
 United States


See also[edit]


  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.
  3. ^ Mk 57
  4. ^ "MK 57 Vertical Launching System Zumwalt Class Destroyer Program" (PDF).
  5. ^ a b c NAVEDTRA 14324, Gunner's Mate, Chapter 7.
  6. ^ a b U.S. Navy Guided Missile Launcher Systems Accessed May 15, 2014.

External links[edit]