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UK Royal Navy announces Mk 41 VLS fit for Type 31 frigates

The UK has confirmed its intentions to equip the RN's five Type 31 general-purpose frigates with the Lockheed Martin Mk 41 vertical launching system (VLS). (Royal Navy)

The UK Royal Navy (RN) has revealed plans to install the Lockheed Martin Mk 41 vertical launching system (VLS) into its five new Type 31 Inspiration-class general-purpose frigates. The fit will expand the range of missiles and capabilities the ships can deliver.

Speaking on 17 May at theFirst Sea Lord's Sea Power Conference 2023 – co-hosted by the RN, the Council on Geostrategy, and King's College London, at Lancaster House, London – the navy's First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sir Ben Key said, β€œWe need to advance our ability to deliver lethal, long-range offensive fires against our adversaries, hence the decision to ensure the Mk 41 VLS is fitted to the Type 26 frigates – and we intend to fit it also to our Type 31 frigates.”

Installing Mk 41 in both Type 26 and Type 31 will enable the RN to potentially equip the ship types with a range of current and future anti-air, anti-surface, ballistic missile defence, and strike missiles, Adm Key added.

Mk 41 is a multi-purpose VLS for surface ships, designed originally for the US Navy (USN) but now used by navies around the world. The RN's decision to install it on Type 31 reflects the frigate's design principle to provide flexibility to fit different capabilities as and when required, and what Adm Key noted as the operational principle to deliver agility, flexibility, and greater mass at sea.

β€œThe Mk 41 VLS will deliver surface-launched strike operations against a full spectrum of targets,” an RN spokesperson told Janes

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