Carrier-based aircraft are military aircraft designed specifically for operations from aircraft carriers. The term is generally applied only to fixed-wing aircraft, as naval helicopters are able to operate from a wider variety of aviation-capable ships. Carrier-based aircraft must be relatively sturdy to withstand demanding carrier operations. They must be able to launch in a short distance and be sturdy and flexible enough to come to a sudden stop on a pitching deck; they typically have robust folding wing mechanisms that allow higher numbers of them to be stored in below-decks hangars. These aircraft are designed for many purposes including air-to-air combat, surface attack, submarine attack, search and rescue, materiel transport, weather observation, reconnaissance and wide area command and control duties.
The 1903 advent of fixed-wing aircraft was followed in 1910 by the first flight of such an aircraft from the deck of a U.S. Navy cruiser. Seaplanes and seaplane tender support ships, such as HMS Engadine, followed. The development of flat top vessels produced the first large fleet ships. This evolution was well underway by the early 1920s, resulting in ships such as Hōshō (1922), HMS Hermes (1924), Béarn (1927), and the Lexington-class aircraft carriers (1927). These developments created the need for specialized aircraft adapted for takeoffs and landings from flight decks of these ships.
The significance of air power grew during World War II, driven by the superior range, flexibility and effectiveness of carrier-launched aircraft. Following the war, carrier operations continued to increase in size and importance.
Modern carrier-based aircraft are built in mainly three different versions to suit the needs of its various users.
Catapult Assisted Take Off But Arrested Recovery 
CATOBAR 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 arresting wires. Although this system is more costly than alternative methods, it provides greater flexibility in carrier operations, since it allows the vessel to support aircraft with full combat payload. Ships with CATOBAR currently include: the U.S. Nimitz class, and USS Enterprise (CVN-65) with the F-18 series, France's Charles De Gaulle with Rafales, and Brazil's NAe São Paulo with A-4 Skyhawks.
Short takeoff and vertical landing 
STOVL is often accomplished on aircraft carriers through the use of "ski-jump" runways, instead of the conventional catapult system. STOVL use tends to allow aircraft to carry a larger payload as compared to during VTOL use, while still only requiring a short runway. The most famous example is probably the Hawker Siddeley Harrier Jump Jet, which though technically a VTOL aircraft, is operationally a STOVL aircraft due to the extra weight it carries at take off for fuel and armaments. The same is true of the F-35B Lightning II, which demonstrated VTOL capability in test flights but is operationally STOVL.
Short Take Off But Arrested Recovery 
STOBAR is a system used for the launch and recovery of aircraft from the deck of an aircraft carrier, combining elements of both STOVL and CATOBAR. Aircraft launch under their own power using a ski-jump to assist take-off (rather than using a catapult like most carriers). These are conventional, rather than STOVL aircraft however and thus require arresting wires to land on the ship. The Russian Navy aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov operates the Su-33, a STOBAR aircraft. Another will be the Indian Vikramaditya and the future Vikrant class aircraft carrier; both are likely to operate MiG-29Ks.
Modern carrier-based aircraft in service 
In service 
- Boeing EA-18G Growler
- Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
- British Aerospace Sea Harrier
- Dassault-Breguet Super Étendard
- Dassault Rafale M
- Grumman C-2 Greyhound
- Hawker Siddeley AV-8S Harrier
- McDonnell Douglas A-4KU Skyhawk (AF-1)
- McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II
- McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet
- McDonnell Douglas T-45 Goshawk
- Mikoyan MiG-29K
- Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye
- Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler
- Sukhoi Su-25UTG/UBP
- Sukhoi Su-33
Under development 
See also 
- Fred T Jane (2005). Jane's All the World's Aircraft. Jane's Information Group.
- "Hawker Siddeley Harrier." British Aircraft Directory. Retrieved: 6 May 2009.
- Chant, Chris. "Aircraft of World War II" Barnes & Noble: New York (1999) ISBN 0-7607-1261-1
- Collier, Basil. "Japanese Aircraft of World War II" Mayflower: New York (1979) ISBN 0-8317-5137-1
- Donald, David; Daniel J. March (2001). Carrier Aviation Air Power Directory. Norwalk, CT: AIRtime Publishing. ISBN 1-880588-43-9.
- Gunston, Bill. "Combat Aircraft of World War II" Salamander Books: London (1978) ISBN 0-89673-000-X
- Munson, Kenneth. "Aircraft of World War II" Doubleday: New York
- Pawlowski, Gareth L. "Flat-Tops and Fledglings" Castle Books: New York (1971) ISBN 0-498-07641-5
- Clark G. Reynolds. The fast carriers: the forging of an air navy (1968; 1978; 1992)
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