STOBAR (Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery) is a system used for the launch and recovery of aircraft from the deck of an aircraft carrier, combining elements of both short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) with catapult-assisted take-off but with arrested recovery (CATOBAR).
Aircraft launch under their own power using a ski-jump to assist take-off (rather than using a catapult like most carriers). However, these are conventional, rather than STOVL aircraft, and thus require arrestor wires to land on the ship. The STOBAR system is simpler to build than CATOBAR — but it works only with aircraft that have a high thrust to weight ratio. As of 2015, it has only been used regularly on Russian, Indian, and Chinese carriers.
Compared to catapult-assisted take-off but with arrested recovery (CATOBAR), STOBAR is less expensive to develop. It is easier to operate than a CATOBAR configuration which requires large number of operators to launch the aircraft. Lack of any moving parts in ski-jump makes it less expensive to maintain the launch system. It does not require any additional system to generate force required to launch the aircraft unlike CATOBAR where an external force is needed to be generated either from steam catapult or Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System(EMALS) to launch the aircraft.
One major limitation of STOBAR configuration is that it only works with aircraft that have a high thrust to weight ratio such as Su-33 or MiG-29K and thus limits the kind of aircraft that can be operated from the carrier. In order to be airborne aircraft may require to limit the weaponry and size of the aircraft to reduce the weight of the aircraft. Short take off using ski-jump leads to more stress on the airframes of the aircraft, thus limiting the ability to conduct sorties faster on STOBAR aircraft carrier. STOBAR carriers must maintain a speed of 20k-30k in order to generate wind speed required on deck which is essential for conducting aircraft launch operations.
List of STOBAR aircraft
- HAL Tejas- The Naval Tejas is a variant of HAL Tejas Developed for Indian navy. A prototype (np-1) is currently under flight testing.
- Mikoyan MiG-29K- currently active with the Indian Navy; the Russian Navy has placed orders for MiG-29k to operate them from Admiral Kuznetsov.
- Shenyang J-15- operated by People's Liberation Army Navy on Liaoning
- Sukhoi Su-33- Developed from Su-27 and only operated by the Russian Navy.
The Russian Navy aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is the first STOBAR carrier. Other aircraft carriers that feature a STOBAR configuration include the Indian INS Vikramaditya (formerly the Soviet carrier Admiral Gorshkov), lead vessel of Vikrant-class INS Vikrant as well as the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning (formerly the Soviet carrier Varyag) .
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