Vertical Launching System

From Academic Kids

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The VLS cells on board USS San Jacinto.

Vertical Launching System (VLS) is a missile-firing system aboard United States Navy attack submarines, and surface vessels belonging to the U.S. and other navies. The VLS System replaced the Armored Box Launcher system that was previously used by United States Navy ships to fire missiles.

Derived from the launch systems developed for ballistic missiles aboard SSBNs, VLS forms a scaled down equivalent for launching cruise missiles such as the Tomahawk and surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) such as the Standard missile. The system enables SSNs (nuclear-powered attack submarines) to carry more weapons in addition to their torpedo tubes. More significantly, VLS allows both submarines and surface combatants to have more weapons ready for firing at a given time as compared to other launching systems. The drawback to VLS is that, unlike torpedo tubes, it cannot be reloaded at sea without significant support from ships such as a submarine tender or a trip to a submarine base.

The current generation of VLS system is known as "Mk 41 Vertical Launch System". It is capable of carrying an extremely wide range of missiles, including the Sea Sparrow (ship self defense, short range SAM), Standard missile (medium range/long range SAM), VLASROC (anti-submarine missile with Mk-46 torpedo as warhead, very similar to the ASROC), and the Tomahawk Cruise Missile (long range anti-ship/strike). There are also plans to increase the number of missiles it is capable of carrying.

VLS launchers have found a role in AEGIS-equipped surface ships on Arleigh Burke, Kongo, and KDX-3 class destroyers, Ticonderoga class cruisers, and Alvaro de Bazán and Fridtjof Nansen class frigates. They have also been implemented on non-AEGIS classes, such as the US Navy's Spruance class of destroyers and Royal Navy's Type 23 frigates.

== External Links ==

Federation of American Scientists, Mk 41 VLS: [1] (http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ship/weaps/mk-41-vls.htm)


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