The US Department of Defense (DoD) contracted Lockheed Martin to exercise options for the Mk41 VLS used onboard US and Spanish warships on 25 January 2024.

This contract modification combines purchases for the US Navy, which will finance 97% of the support; and the Government of Spain, which will fund the remaining 3% under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme.

Work will be performed in Moorestown, New Jersey (31%); Indianapolis, Indiana (27%); Saginaw, Michigan (7%); Farmingdale, New York (6%); St. Peters, Missouri (3%); San Jose, California (2%); Radford, Virginia (1%); and various other locations (each less than 1%) (23% combined). The DoD expects the work to be completed by June 2027.

Fiscal 2024 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) funds in the amount of $63.4m (70%); fiscal 2024 Defense-wide procurement in the amount of $23.6m (26%); FMS (Spain) funds in the amount $2.7m (3%); and fiscal 2023 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) funds in the amount of $543,340 (1%). These funds will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

GlobalData intelligence tells us that Spain participates in the Nato Anti-missile Defence programme under an agreement with the US, allowing for the permanent deployment of four US Navy destroyers equipped with the Aegis combat system at Rota Naval Station.

Mk41 VLS features

Installed below deck, the Mk41 VLS enhances performance in operational availability, survivability and versatility with minimal staffing and training requirements.

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The system has been deployed by 13 navies across more than 26 ship classes on more than 180 ships.

Mk41 VLS is the only launching system that can simultaneously communicate with weapon control systems and missiles of every warfighting mission area: anti-aircraft, anti-surface, anti-submarine, ballistic missile defense and land attack.

The system is designed to accept any missile into any cell — a capability that provides unparalleled flexibility.

The basic module is available in two sizes: strike and tactical length. The strike module is approximately 25 feet (ft), or 7.6 metres (m), long and capable of launching large missiles, such as those that support sea-based midcourse ballistic missile defense and long-range strike. The tactical module is approximately 22ft (6.7m) long and is capable of accommodating the same missile types as the strike length with the exception of the Tomahawk cruise missile and missiles designed for a ballistic missile defence role.

When it comes to missiles, the system can integrate the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM); Tomahawk Cruise Missile; Standard Missile (SM) 2; SM3; SM6 and Vertical Launch ASROC (VLA).

The supplier claims it has consistently demonstrated the ability to integrate new weapons. Future missile integration may include Long Range Anti-ship Missile (LRASM), Common Anti Air Modular Missile (CAMM), ASTER, Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW) and Barak.