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Flight deck of USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, showing catapult layout.
Catapult launches aboard USS Ronald Reagan

CATOBAR (Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery or Catapult Assisted Take-Off Barrier Arrested Recovery) is a system used for the launch and recovery of aircraft from the deck of an aircraft carrier. Under this technique, aircraft launch using a catapult-assisted take-off and land on the ship (the recovery phase) using arrestor wires.

Although this system is more costly than alternative methods, it provides greater flexibility in carrier operations, since it imposes less onerous design elements on fixed wing aircraft than alternative methods of launch and recovery such as STOVL or STOBAR.

The United States Navy is developing a system to launch carrier-based aircraft from catapults using a linear motor drive instead, called the EMALS.


Main article: Aircraft catapult

The catapult system in use in modern CATOBAR carriers is the steam catapult. Its primary advantage is the amount of power and control it can provide. During World War II the US Navy used a hydraulic catapult.


Only three countries currently operate carriers that use the CATOBAR system; the U.S. Nimitz-class, France's Charles De Gaulle, and Brazil's NAe São Paulo.

The Queen Elizabeth-class of the Royal Navy were planned to use CATOBAR following the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review,[1] but this decision was reversed in 2012.

Future US Navy Gerald R. Ford-class carriers will use the EMALS electromagnetic aircraft launch system in place of CATOBAR.[2]

INS Vishal, India's second indigenous aircraft carrier of the Vikrant-class is planned to be of 65,000 ton displacement and to utilize steam catapults.[3][4]