Hunter-class frigate

The Hunter-class frigate is a future class of frigates for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) to replace the Anzac-class. Construction is expected to begin in 2020, with the first of nine vessels to enter service in the late 2020s.[7] The Program is expected to cost AU$35 billion and a request for tender was released in March 2017 to three contenders: Navantia, Fincantieri, and BAE Systems as part of a competitive evaluation process.[8]

The genesis of the Future Frigate Program came in 2009, when the Rudd Government’s Defence White Paper signalled Australia’s intent to "acquire a fleet of eight new Future Frigates, which will be larger than the Anzac-class vessels" with a focus on anti-submarine warfare.[9] With an initial tender expected in 2019–20, in 2014 the Abbott Government announced that work had been brought forward, funding a preliminary design study focussed on integrating a CEAFAR Radar and Saab combat system on the hull of the Hobart-class destroyer.

Following a report by the RAND Corporation into options for Australia’s naval shipbuilding industry, the Government announced an $89 billion naval shipbuilding plan. This plan brought the schedule of the Future Frigate Program forward by three years and announced a "continuous onshore build program to commence in 2020" in South Australia.[10] A competitive evaluation process was announced in April 2016, with Navantia, Fincantieri, and BAE Systems revealed as the contenders to design the ships.

In June 2018, the BAE Systems Type 26 was selected as the winner.[11][12][13]

Type 26 Capability
UK Type 26 frigate artists impression.
Class overview
Builders:
Operators:  Royal Australian Navy
Preceded by: Anzac class
Built: From 2020
In commission: From 2027
Planned: 9
General characteristics
Type: Frigate
Displacement: 8,800 t (8,700 long tons; 9,700 short tons) full load displacement
Length: 149.9 m (492 ft)
Beam: 20.8 m (68 ft)[1]
Propulsion: Combined diesel-electric or gas (CODLOG)[2]
Speed: 27+ knots
Range: 7,000 nautical miles (13,000 km; 8,100 mi) in electric motor drive[3]
Complement: 180 personnel, with accommodation for 208
Sensors and
processing systems:
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
Nulka decoy launchers
Armament:
Aircraft carried: 1 x MH-60R ‘Romeo’ Seahawk[5]
Aviation facilities:
Notes:
  • Flexible Mission Bay can hold:
  • second helicopter
  • 4 x 11m RHIB
  • 10 x 20 foot containers
  • UAVs and UUVs[6]

Project history

Planning

The 2009 Defence White Paper outlined "ambitious plans for the Navy’s surface fleet."[14] At its centre was the requirement for twelve Future Submarines and "eight new Future Frigates, which will be larger than the Anzac-class vessels" with a focus on anti-submarine warfare.[9] The accompanying Defence Capability Plan stated that a Government decision would be expected "beyond 2019."[15]

The 2013 Defence White Paper reaffirmed the Future Frigate program and suggested that the replacement of the Anzac-class vessels could be brought forward.[16] In the early 2010s, there was significant concern over the ‘valley of death’ in Australian shipbuilding following the conclusion of the Hobart-class destroyer program. With concerns both over the cost and management of the Hobart-class program and a union campaign calling for job security at government-owned shipyard ASC, the Abbott Government committed over $78 million to preliminary studies to determine whether the Hobart-class hull could be utilised for the Future Frigate.[17]

The 2016 Defence White Paper increased the number of future frigates by one to a total of nine ships.[18]

Against this backdrop, the Abbott Government commissioned a study by the RAND Corporation to determine options for the future of naval shipbuilding in Australia. The report found that:

  • Australia could sustain a naval ship building industrial base by carefully managing a continuous ship building strategy in the longer–term, with a regular pace of delivering the new ships. But this would need to be premised on reform of the Australian naval ship building industry and significant improvement in productivity.
  • Australian naval ship builders can sustain an 18–24 month pace of large ship construction starts if Defence carefully manages its acquisition program and keeps the Future Frigates operational for 25 to 30 years.
  • The gap between the completion of the Air Warfare Destroyer project and the start of the Future Frigate cannot be overcome, but the impact could be lessened. The cost of building naval ships in Australia is 30–40 per cent greater than United States benchmarks, and even greater against some other naval ship building nations. Australia is currently one of the most expensive places to build naval vessels. This premium can be reduced by improved productivity.[19]

In response to the RAND report, the Government announced a $89 billion shipbuilding program. This included bringing forward the Future Frigate program with a "continuous onshore build programme to commence in 2020."[10] The budget for the program has been confirmed as "more than $35 billion" and the Government claims it will "directly create over 2,000 jobs." All nine vessels will be constructed in Adelaide, South Australia.[20]

Tender process

In April 2016 the government announced a competitive evaluation process between Navantia, Fincantieri and BAE Systems for the Future Frigate Program.[21] Additionally, a tender for the combat system was also held between Saab and Lockheed Martin. In October 2017, the government announced that the Aegis combat system and a Saab tactical interface would be used for the class.[22]

HMAS Hobart and Brisbane at ASC Osborne - cropped
Two Hobart-class destroyers being fitted out / built in South Australia. HMAS Hobart is in the water, HMAS Brisbane is in dock.

Navantia (Evolved F-100)

Navantia offered an evolution of its F-100 base design, which forms the basis for the Hobart-class destroyers currently being built in Adelaide for the RAN.[23] In 2014, the Australian Government commissioned a study to use the Hobart-class hull which Navantia claims shows it could be adapted to meet the requirements of the Future Frigate program, including integration of the CEAFAR radar and Saab 9LV combat system.[24] Based on this study, a Navantia-designed Future Frigate would have 75 per cent systems commonality with the Hobart-class destroyers.[25] Systems on the Hobart class include a 48-cell Mk41 vertical launch system, five-inch Mark 45 naval gun, undersea warfare capabilities including a hull mounted sonar and active and passive towed variable depth sonar, as well as the capability to operate a MH-60R "Romeo" Seahawk.[26]

The Hobart-class Air Warfare Destroyer program has attracted criticism for cost and schedule over-runs: by 2015 the program was three years behind schedule and $800 million over budget.[27] In late 2015, Navantia was selected to bring a shipbuilding management team into government-owned shipyard ASC as part of the AWD reform program.[28] Following the reform program, initiated by ASC prior to Navantia management integration, ASC has stated that "when we reach our budget on ship three...we will be as good as the other Aegis yards in the world."[29]

Carlo Margottini (F 592) 05
The Italian FREMM Carlo Margottini

Fincantieri (Modified FREMM)

Fincantieri offered the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) variant of its FREMM frigate (Bergamini class). The Italian Navy will purchase four ASW FREMMs and six of the general purpose variants. The vessels are equipped with an Italian weapons and sensor suite, including a 76 mm OTO Melara gun fore and aft, a 16-cell vertical launch system (VLS) for missiles including the MBDA Aster 15 and 30.[30]

Fincantieri says that the general hull configuration of the Bergamini design will require little or no modification to meet Australian requirements, including the incorporation of the CEAFAR radar, although it has confirmed that some redesign would be required if Australia requires the incorporation of the US Navy Mark 45 five inch naval gun.[31] However, when discussing the FREMM, Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said that "the weaponry of course will be United States' weaponry. That will be integrated into the winning vessel."[32]

In 2016, Pyne stated that "one of the advantages for this company is that this vessel has been built, it is already in operation. One of the disadvantages is that the company doesn't operate here."[32]

BAE Systems (Type 26)

BAE Systems offered an export variant of its Type 26. First conceived in 1998, the UK's Future Surface Combatant program was originally intended to replace the Royal Navy's Type 22 and Type 23 frigate fleets. In 2010 BAE Systems were given a four-year contract to fully design a new class of warship, the Type 26 or 'Global Combat Ship.'[33] The 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review announced that the Royal Navy would procure 13 of the vessels, however repeated delays saw the program scaled back to eight vessels with five smaller Type 31 warships also ordered.[34]

Construction of the ships in the UK was expected to start in 2016, but was delayed with critics saying it was "due to the Minister of Defence's attempts to save money."[35] Work began in 2017 with the first vessel set to enter service in the early 2020s, after Australia’s build program commences.[34] The Royal Navy’s eight vessels are expected to cost £8 billion (AUD $13.8 billion).[36]

The Type 26 'Reference Ship Design' will be equipped with an advanced anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability, a 24-cell strike length Mk 41 VLS for long-range strike weapons such as the Tomahawk, a 48-cell vertical launch silo (VLS) for Sea Ceptor anti-air missiles, a 5-inch gun, and is capable of landing a Chinook helicopter on its flight deck.[37]

In April 2018 BAE claimed it would be able to offer the best ASW performance of the three contenders, despite not having a ship of the class in the water at the time.[38]

Design and construction

The Hunter-class frigate will be an Australian variation of the Type 26 class frigate that is to be operated by the Royal Navy from the mid-2020s. The class will have a 8,800-tonne (8,700-long-ton; 9,700-short-ton) full load displacement and will be approximately 150 metres (490 ft) in length. The vessel will be capable of sailing in excess of 27 knots (50 km/h; 31 mph) and will have a full complement of 180 crew.[11][3]

A Saab tactical interface with the Aegis combat interface will be used.[22] The vessel will be able to carry one MH-60R ASW helicopter, and has the ability to host other Australian aircraft such as the MRH90 helicopter.[2]

The ships will be built by BAE Systems Australia at the ASC's Osborne, South Australia shipyard.[39]

Ships

At the same time as BAE Systems was announced as the winner, the names of the first three ships were announced as:

See also

References

  1. ^ "Hunter Class FFG". www.navy.gov.au. Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  2. ^ a b "BAE Systems Global Combat Ship - Australia (GCS-A)". YouTube. Royal Australian Navy. 28 June 2018. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Hunter Class FFG". Royal Australian Navy. n.d. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  4. ^ "Joint Media Release - Prime Minister, Minister for Defence and Minister for Defence Industry - New Approach to Naval Combat Systems". Department of Defence. Department of Defence. 3 October 2017. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  5. ^ Kerr, Julian (17 May 2017). "Anti-submarine future frigates to be armed with SM-2 missiles to blunt far-distant attacks". The Australian. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  6. ^ Kerr, Julian (5 March 2019). "The Type 26 frigate mission bay. Part 2 – configuration and contents". Save the Royal Navy. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  7. ^ 2016 Defence White Paper (PDF). p. 93.
  8. ^ Pyne, Christopher (31 March 2017). "$35 billion Future Frigate Tender". www.minister.defence.gov.au. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  9. ^ a b 2009 Defence White Paper (PDF). p. 71.
  10. ^ a b Andrews, Kevin; Abbott, Tony (4 August 2015). "The Government's plan for a strong and sustainable naval shipbuilding industry". www.minister.defence.gov.au. Archived from the original on 20 September 2015. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  11. ^ a b Wroe, David (28 June 2018). "British frigate program to seed Australia's own warship industry, Turnbull says". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  12. ^ Symth, Jamie (28 June 2018). "BAE triumphs in £20bn Australia frigate contract". Financial Times. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  13. ^ "The Hunter-Class-Defending Australia and securing our shipbuilding industry". Prime Minister of Australia. 29 June 2018. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  14. ^ Barrie, Chris (Winter 2009). "The Defence White Paper 2009 and Australia's Maritime Capabilities" (PDF). Security Challenges. 5: 54.
  15. ^ 2009 Defence Capability Plan (PDF). p. 18.
  16. ^ "2013 Defence White Paper: Naval Shipbuilding: Release of the Future Submarine Industry Skills Plan". www.minister.defence.gov.au. Archived from the original on 12 July 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  17. ^ Church, Nathan (11 August 2014). "Australian naval shipbuilding since the 2013 election: a quick guide". www.aph.gov.au. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  18. ^ "2016 Defence White Paper" (PDF). defence.gov.au. 25 February 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
  19. ^ Andrews, Kevin (9 November 2016). "Release of the RAND Corporation report". www.minister.defence.gov.au. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  20. ^ Turnbull, Malcolm; Payne, Marise (9 November 2016). "Continuous Naval Shipbuilding". www.minister.defence.gov.au. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  21. ^ "Three shipbuilding announcements in one day". Australian Defence Magazine. 18 April 2016. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  22. ^ a b Lewis, Rosie (3 October 2017). "Missile Defence for Australia's Future Frigates Against 'Rogue States'". The Australian. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  23. ^ Air Warfare Destroyer Alliance. "The Hobart Class – Differences from the F100 Class". www.ausawd.com. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  24. ^ Stewart, Cameron (17 March 2016). "Navy frigates in a $30bn race to the future". The Australian. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  25. ^ Kerr, Julian. "Frigate rivals told to think local". The Australian. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  26. ^ Air Warfare Destroyer Alliance. AWDs in Operation: Hobart Class Combat System (PDF).
  27. ^ McPhedran, Ian (1 May 2015). "Destroyer project now three years behind schedule". news.com.au. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  28. ^ Starick, Paul (8 December 2015). "Spanish shipbuilding firm Navantia to take management control of air warfare destroyer project from Osborne's ASC". The Advertiser. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  29. ^ Shepherd, Tori (24 May 2017). "Adelaide shipbuilder ASC say it 'smashed the notion' it's too expensive to make ships in Australia". The Advertiser. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  30. ^ "Bergamini Class". www.fincantieri.com. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  31. ^ Pittaway, Nigel (12 February 2017). "Sea Power: The Italian Job – Fincantieri's proposal for Sea 5000". Australian Defence Magazine. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  32. ^ a b Keane, Daniel (5 February 2017). "Italian Navy shows off frigate design in Adelaide". ABC News. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  33. ^ Dailyrecord.co.uk (25 March 2010). "Clyde shipyard jobs secured as BAE Systems land £127m contract to help design new frigate for Royal Navy". dailyrecord. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  34. ^ a b "Work on eight Type 26 frigates to begin in Summer 2017". BBC News. 4 November 2016. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  35. ^ "No Type 26 frigate deal unless it is 'value for money'". BBC News. 27 June 2016. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  36. ^ "Oral evidence – Naval Procurement: Type 26 and Type 45 – 20 Jul 2016". data.parliament.uk. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  37. ^ "Global Combat Ship". BAE Systems | United Kingdom. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  38. ^ "Old ships can't compete with our bid, says BAE". theaustralian.com.au. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  39. ^ Here comes the Hunter: BAE awarded $35bn SEA 5000 Future Frigate Contract Defence Connect 28 June 2018
  40. ^ Kemp, Fenn (29 June 2018). "Hunter class commission new era for Navy's future force". Navy Daily. Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 29 June 2018.

External links

Abel Tasman

Abel Janszoon Tasman (Dutch: [ˈɑbəl ˈjɑnsoːn ˈtɑsmɑn]; 1603 – 10 October 1659) was a Dutch seafarer, explorer, and merchant, best known for his voyages of 1642 and 1644 in the service of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). He was the first known European explorer to reach the islands of Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania) and New Zealand, and to sight the Fiji islands.

Anzac-class frigate

The Anzac class (also identified as the ANZAC class and the MEKO 200 ANZ type) is a ship class of ten frigates; eight operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and two operated by the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN). During the 1980s, the RAN began plans to replace the River-class destroyer escorts (based on the British Leander Class) with a mid-capability patrol frigate, and settled on the idea of modifying a proven foreign design for Australian conditions. Around the same time, the RNZN was seeking to replace their Leander-class frigates while maintaining blue-water capabilities. A souring of relations between New Zealand and the United States of America in relation to New Zealand's nuclear-free zone and the ANZUS security treaty prompted New Zealand to seek improved ties with other nations, particularly Australia. As both nations were seeking warships of similar capabilities, the decision was made in 1987 to collaborate on their acquisition. The project name (and later, the class name) is taken from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps of the First World War.

Twelve ship designs were tendered in 1986. By 1989, the project had selected a proposal by Germany's Blohm + Voss, based on their MEKO 200 design, to be built in Australia by AMECON at Williamstown, Victoria. The modular design of the frigates allowed sections to be constructed at Whangarei, New Zealand and Newcastle, New South Wales in addition to Williamstown. The RAN ordered eight ships, while the RNZN ordered two and had the option to add two more. The frigate acquisition was controversial and widely opposed in New Zealand, and as a result, the additional ships were not ordered.

In 1992, work started on the frigates; 3,600-tonne (3,500-long-ton) ships capable of a 27-knot (50 km/h; 31 mph) top speed, and a range of 6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km; 6,900 mi) at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph). The armament initially consisted of a single 5-inch gun and a point-defence missile system, supported by a missile-armed helicopter. In addition, the ships were fitted for but not with a torpedo system, anti-ship missiles, and a close-in weapons system. The last ship of the class entered service in 2006; by this point, the RAN and RNZN had embarked on separate projects to improve the frigates' capabilities by fitting the additional weapons, along with updates to other systems and equipment.

Since entering service, Anzac-class frigates have made multiple deployments outside local waters, including involvement in the INTERFET multi-national deployment to East Timor, and multiple operational periods in the Persian Gulf. As of 2014, all ten ships are in service. The RAN intends to start replacing theirs in 2024, while the RNZN ships will remain active until around 2030.

HMAS Flinders

Two ships of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) have been named HMAS Flinders, after Matthew Flinders.

HMAS Flinders (GS 312), a hydrographic survey ship in service from 1973 to 1998.

HMAS Flinders (FFG), a Hunter-class frigate that is expected to enter service in the late 2020's.

Hobart-class destroyer

The Hobart class is a ship class of three air warfare destroyers (AWDs) being built for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Planning for ships to replace the Adelaide-class frigates and restore the capability last exhibited by the Perth-class destroyers began by 2000, initially under acquisition project SEA 1400, which was re-designated SEA 4000. Although the designation "Air Warfare Destroyer" is used to describe ships dedicated to the defence of a naval force (plus assets ashore) from aircraft and missile attack, the planned Australian destroyers are expected to also operate in anti-surface, anti-submarine, and naval gunfire support roles.

Planning for the Australian Air Warfare Destroyer (as the class was known until 2006) continued through the mid-2000s, with the selection of the Aegis combat system as the intended combat system and ASC as the primary shipbuilder in 2005. In late 2005, the AWD Alliance was formed as a consortium of the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO), ASC, and Raytheon. Between 2005 and 2007, Gibbs & Cox's Evolved Arleigh Burke-class destroyer concept and Navantia's Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate competed for selection as the AWD design. Although the Arleigh Burke design was larger and more capable, the Álvaro de Bazán design was selected in June 2007 as it was an existing design, and would be cheaper, quicker, and less risky to build.

Three ships were ordered in October 2007, and will be assembled at ASC's facility in Osborne, South Australia, from 31 pre-fabricated modules (or 'blocks'). An option to build a fourth destroyer was included in the original contract, but has not been exercised. ASC, NQEA Australia, and the Forgacs Group were selected in May 2009 to build the blocks, but within two months, NQEA was replaced by BAE Systems Australia. Construction errors and growing delays led the AWD Alliance to redistribute the construction workload in 2011, with some modules to be built by Navantia. Increasing slippage has pushed the original planned 2014-2016 commissioning dates out by at least three years, with lead ship Hobart to be completed by June 2017, Brisbane in September 2018, and Sydney by March 2020. The AWD Alliance, Navantia, and the involved shipyards have been criticised for underestimating risks, costs, and timeframes; faulty drawings and bad building practices leading to repeated manufacturing errors; and blame-passing. The alliance concept has been panned for having no clear management structure or entity in charge, and having the DMO simultaneously acting as supplier, build partner, and customer for the ships.

Mark 41 Vertical Launching System

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. The Vertical Launch System (VLS) concept was derived from work on the Aegis Combat System.

Procurement programme of the Royal Australian Navy

The Royal Australian Navy, although a significant force in the Asia-Pacific region, is nonetheless classed as a medium-sized navy. Its fleet is based around two main types of surface combatant, with limited global deployment and air power capability. However, in 2009, a white paper, Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030, was produced by the Australian government which set out a programme of defence spending that will see significant improvements to the RAN's fleet and capabilities.

Rolls-Royce MT30

The Rolls-Royce MT30 (Marine Turbine) is a marine gas turbine engine based on Rolls-Royce Trent 800 aero engine. The MT30 retains 80% commonality with the Trent 800, the engine for the Boeing 777. The maximum power rating is 40 MW and minimum efficient power 25MW.Rolls-Royce announced the MT30 programming on September 11, 2001. The first run of the engine was on September 6, 2002. In early 2003 the MT30 was selected to power the Royal Navy future aircraft carriers (CVFs) and the demonstrator of the US Navy's DD(X) multi-mission destroyer. In June 2004 Lockheed Martin awarded the engine contract to the MT30 for its Littoral combat ship design.

In 2012 the company repackaged the MT30 so that it would fit into smaller ships, and their first such order came from South Korea, for their Daegu-class frigates.

Type 26 frigate

The Type 26 frigate or City-class frigate is a class of frigate being built for the United Kingdom's Royal Navy. The ship design and manufacture programme, known as the Global Combat Ship, was created by the UK Ministry of Defence to partially replace the navy's thirteen Type 23 frigates, and for export. It will be a multi-mission warship designed to support anti-submarine warfare, air defence and general purpose operations.The programme began in 1998, under what was then known as the Future Surface Combatant (FSC). However, by March 2010, this procurement programme had evolved to become the Global Combat Ship, following the announcement of a four-year, £127 million design contract being awarded to BAE Systems Maritime – Naval Ships. The design passed Main Gate 1 in early 2015, with the Demonstration Phase starting 1 April 2015. In August 2015 the first long lead items for Type 26 were ordered, with manufacturing then expected to begin in 2016 and the first Type 26 to be delivered in 2023. In November 2016 it was announced that first steel would be cut for the eight Royal Navy ships in summer 2017. They will be built at BAE Systems' Govan and Scotstoun yards on the River Clyde in Glasgow.

The contract award to manufacture the Type 26 was announced by BAE Systems on 2 July 2017, with steel cut for the first of class, HMS Glasgow on 20 July 2017 by the Secretary of State for Defence, Sir Michael Fallon.In June 2018, the Australian Government announced that it had selected a modified version of the Type 26 platform as the planned replacement for its Anzac-class frigate. This will see the Royal Australian Navy procure up to nine Hunter-class frigates, which will be constructed by BAE Systems Australia at ASC's shipyard in Osborne, South Australia.On 8 February 2019, Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough announced that the Canadian government had awarded Lockheed Martin Canada a C$185 million contract to design a fleet of 15 warships based on the Type 26, with a total program cost of $60 billion (which includes operations and maintenance over the life of the ships). The amount of the contract will increase as the design work increases. The initial design contract is with Irving Shipbuilding of Halifax.

Vertical launching system

A vertical launching system (VLS) is an advanced system for holding and firing missiles on mobile naval platforms, such as surface ships and submarines. Each vertical launch system consists of a number of cells, which can hold one or more missiles ready for firing. Typically, each cell can hold a number of different types of missiles, allowing the ship flexibility to load the best set for any given mission. Further, when new missiles are developed, they are typically fitted to the existing vertical launch systems of that nation, allowing existing ships to use new types of missiles without expensive rework. When the command is given, the missile flies straight up long enough to clear the cell and the ship, and then turns on course.

A VLS allows surface combatants to have a greater number of weapons ready for firing at any given time compared to older launching systems such as the Mark 13 single-arm and Mark 26 twin-arm launchers, which were fed from behind by a magazine below the main deck. In addition to greater firepower, VLS is much more damage tolerant and reliable than the previous systems, and has a lower radar cross-section (RCS). The U.S. Navy now relies exclusively on VLS for its guided missile destroyers and cruisers.

The most widespread vertical launch system in the world is the Mark 41, developed by the United States Navy. More than 11,000 Mark 41 VLS missile cells have been delivered, or are on order, for use on 186 ships across 19 ship classes, in 11 navies around the world. This system currently serves with the US Navy as well as the Australian, Danish, Dutch, German, Japanese, New Zealand, Norwegian, South Korean, Spanish, and Turkish navies, while others like the Greek Navy preferred the similar Mark 48 system.The advanced Mark 57 vertical launch system is used on the new Zumwalt-class destroyer. The older Mark 13 and Mark 26 systems remain in service on ships that were sold to other countries such as Taiwan and Poland.

When installed on an SSN (nuclear-powered attack submarine), a VLS allows a greater number and variety of weapons to be deployed, compared with using only torpedo tubes.

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