How will new Mk41 Vertical Launch missile systems change the Royal Navy's capabilities?

Watch: How will new Mk 41 Vertical Missile systems bring more firepower to the Royal Navy?

Britain's newest warships are set to strike enemies harder and deeper thanks to the new Mk41 Vertical Launch missile systems.

The Mk41 Vertical Launch cells are set to be fitted on Type 26 and Type 31 frigates – with both being built in Scotland to increase the number of ships in the Royal Navy over the next 10 years.

The First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, said the systems will "deliver lethal, long-range offensive fires" and "enable potential use of a large variety of current and future anti-air, anti-surface ballistic missile defence and strike missiles".

But how does that improve on the Royal Navy's capabilities?

Nick Childs, a naval forces and maritime security expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) said it allows the Navy to improve "its lethality, its offensive missile capabilities – which it's been criticised in the past for not having enough of".

"The introduction of the Mk41 missile system will allow them to carry more missiles and to carry a greater number of missiles of different varieties which will improve their firepower.

Watch: First steel cut on Royal Navy's second Type 31 frigate.

"That'll allow them to defend themselves and, if necessary, pose problems to the enemy in ways that they couldn't in the past.

"But more generally, it will mean that fitting these launchers to this class of frigates… means that there will be more of that capability distributed around the fleet.

He added this will give more options to commanders, but said it does ask the question of whether the Navy has the "capability to fill those launchers with enough missiles of the right type?"

"For example, the new Anglo-French cruise and anti-ship weapon, which has considerable range and can potentially attack both ships and land targets in the future,

"It can also potentially be the launcher for Tomahawk land attack missiles and potentially even an anti-ship version of the Tomahawk in the future if the Navy decides it wants to buy that and if the Navy has the money to buy that.

"I think that's one of the key issues around this decision is this will add capability to the ships that it will be fitted to, but it's not a cheap option so that raises questions about what the trade-offs might be.

"That might include how many ships the Navy is able to afford overall in the future."

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