BAE Systems has received a contract from the US Navy to produce canisters for Mk 41 and Mk 57 vertical launching systems (VLS), which are installed on several of its naval surface ship platforms.

Mark Signorelli, BAE Systems’ Weapon Systems vice president and general manager, said: "BAE Systems has produced the canisters for the Navy since 1985, and this contract further demonstrates our customer’s satisfaction with the quality of our work."

"It is also a testament to the overall effectiveness of the Mk 41 and Mk 57 systems in supporting and protecting our sailors," Signorelli added.

The Mk 41 and Mk 57 VLS are modular below deck multimissile, multimission launching systems that can launch SM-2, SM-3, SM-6, ESSM, Tomahawk and Vertical Launch ASROC missiles.

"The $78m contract modification brings the total value of the original contract to $158m."

Originally designed for the US Navy’s Aegis-equipped guided missile cruisers, these launchers can fire missiles at threats that include anti-air, anti-submarine, ship self-defence and land attack targets, as well as on naval surface fire support ballistic missile defence missions.

Apart from serving as a launch platform for different missiles, the canisters are also used within the US Navy fleet as missile shipping and storage containers.

Installed in 18 different ship classes of the US and other navies, the combat-proven MK 41 entered into service with the US Navy in 1986 and is currently fitted on more than 76 of its surface combatants.

Designed for the DDG-1000 Zumwalt-Class destroyer, the MK 57 is capable of launching missiles into a 360-degree hemispherical volume.

The $78m contract modification brings the total value of the original contract to $158m, while work on the contract is expected to be completed by December 2014.

Image: Canisters of Mk 41 and Mk 57 VLS below deck missile launchers on a surface combatant. Photo courtesy of: BAE Systems.