The US Navy has awarded the $164m design contract to BAE Systems for the mechanical portion of the Mk 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS).

The VLS Mk 41 is a missile canister launching system with missiles and associated hardware located below the armoured deck.

Through the latest contract, BAE will provide design and support of the VLS system that is fixed in naval cruisers and destroyers.

Under the contract, the company will also launch a wide collection of ‘offensive and defensive missiles’.

Furthermore, BAE will continue to design and support canisters that are used to store, transport, and launch missiles from the VLS.

The contract work will be performed at the company’s facilities in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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BAE Systems weapon systems product line vice-president Brent Butcher said: “This award demonstrates that BAE Systems is an industry leader when it comes to the VLS solution for the navy’s fleet of Ticonderoga-class cruisers and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

“Going forward this contract secures our role in providing the navy with cutting-edge design and engineering supporting this critical warfighting capability.”

The Mk 41 VLS can launch a wide range of missiles, including the Standard Missile SM-2, SM-3 and SM-6 variants.

It is also capable of launching the Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missile, the Nato SeaSparrow and Evolved SeaSparrow, and the Vertical Launch Anti-Submarine Rocket (VLA).

Mk 41 VLS is currently in operation with various navies of countries, such as Australia, Japan, and Canada.

Last June, BAE Systems won a contract to manufacture different types of VLS canisters for the US Navy.