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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) 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 allows the vessel to support conventional aircraft. Alternate methods of launch and recovery can only use aircraft with STOVL or STOBAR capability.
There are two types of launch catapults currently used: the conventional steam-driven catapult, and the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System. During WWII 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.
INS Vishal, India's second indigenous aircraft carrier of the Vikrant class is planned to be of 65,000 tons and to utilize steam catapults.