BAE Systems awarded Lockheed Martin [LMT] a contract for an undisclosed sum to supply the MK 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) for the UK Royal Navy’s new Type 26 frigates.

BAE is the prime contractor for Britain’s new Type 26 Global Combat Ship (GCS) frigates. The VLS is capable of launching anti-air, anti-submarine, surface-to-surface, and strike-length missiles.

Type 26 Global Combat Ship Image: BAE Systems
Type 26 Global Combat Ship
Image: BAE Systems

BAE is initially ordering nine MK 41 VLS modules for the first three frigates. Eventually each ship is expected to be equipped with three eight-cell MK 41 VLS modules.

“Lockheed Martin has a long and successful partnership with the Royal Navy, and we look forward to working with BAE Systems to integrate the MK 41 VLS with the Type 26,” Paul Livingston, group managing director Lockheed Martin UK rotary and mission systems division, said in a statement.

“The MK 41 VLS will provide the Royal Navy’s Type 26 Global Combat Ships with a proven and cost-effective vertical launching solution,” he added.

Mike Holstead, the lead on the Type 26 program at Defence Equipment and Support, the Defence Ministry’s procurement organization, said the signing of this contract is an important milestone in the program.

“The vertical launch system will be a key part of the capability of the new frigate fleet, and an essential tool for Royal Navy in operations to defend the U.K. and her interests,” he said in a statement.

The first of eight total Type 26 ships is expected to enter service in the mid-2020s. They will replace the current Type 23 anti-submarine warfare frigates.

Although neither company disclosed the MK 41 contract value, last month the U.S. State Department approved a $70 Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Finland for four MK 41 Baseline VII Strike-Length VLS with spares, test equipment, and associated logistics support (Defense Daily, Feb. 21).

Separately, BAE awarded an armoring contract for the Type 26 to Israel’s Plasan for an undisclosed sum. Armor protection work for the first three ships in the class is expected to begin this year.