31 Jan 2012
The Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) Alliance has announced the arrival of six MK 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) modules for installation on the first air warfare destroyer, HMAS Hobart, in a milestone delivery for the $8 billion AWD project.
The VLS modules are a critical part of the AWD’s Combat System and enable the AWD to perform and execute tasks in air defence, ship self-defence and anti-surface warfare.
Each of the three Hobart Class AWDs will be equipped with six VLS modules and each module contains eight cells to give a total of 48 cells available to store and launch missiles. A single cell can be armed with either a single SM-2 Missile or four Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles.
“The AWD project is delivering a significant increase in the air warfare capabilities for the Australian Defence Force and each of the three Hobart Class vessels will rank among the world’s most advanced multi-mission warships,” AWD Alliance Chief Executive Officer Rod Equid said.
“At the heart of this capability is the Hobart Class Combat System which will incorporate leading-edge armaments launched from the six VLS modules.”
The Hobart Class Combat System integrates a number of ‘Australianised’ sensors and weapons which complement the AWD Aegis Weapon System – a leading-edge variant of Aegis used on United States Naval cruisers and destroyers.
Each AWD will be armed with a 48 cell VLS, a Mk 45 5” gun, phalanx close-in weapon system, torpedoes, anti-ship harpoon missiles, hull mounted sonar and towed variable depth sonar for detection and defence against enemy submarines and torpedoes, and Nulka missile decoy system.
This gives each AWD an anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capability and the ability to embark a helicopter at sea, as well as the ability to escort a fleet (including amphibious ships capable of transporting an entire combined arms battle group, equipment and supplies).
“Procurement for each element of Hobart’s combat system is proceeding ahead of the project schedule,” Mr Equid said.
The ANZAC Class and Adelaide Class ships in the Royal Australian Navy fleet are equipped with Vertical Launch Systems. But, unlike the current capabilities, the 48 VLS cells will give the AWDs more capacity and air warfare capability than other platforms currently in the fleet. The VLS for the AWD platform also has the flexibility to support multiple missile types within a single weapon launching system.
The VLS modules arrived after a more than a month long journey which started at a production facility at Lockheed Martin in Baltimore, America. From the Port of Baltimore, the VLS modules were shipped to Melbourne before being transported by road to Adelaide.
The acquisition of the VLS modules was made by the Commonwealth of Australia, through the United States Foreign Military Sales program.
The AWD project is being delivered under an Alliance arrangement between ASC, Raytheon Australia, and the Commonwealth’s Defence Materiel Organisation. Each AWD is based on the Spanish F100 platform design and will feature an Australianised combat system and platform upgrades that will provide the Royal Australian Navy with one of the world’s most advanced multi-mission warships.
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