Carrier-based aircraft, sometimes known as carrier-capable aircraft or carrier-borne aircraft, are naval aircraft designed for operations from aircraft carriers. They must be able to launch in a short distance and be sturdy enough to withstand the abrupt forces of launching from and recovering on a pitching deck. In addition, their wings are generally able to fold up, easing operations in tight quarters.
Such aircraft are designed for many purposes including air-to-air combat, surface attack, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), search and rescue (SAR), transport (COD), weather observation, reconnaissance and airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) duties.
The term is generally applied only to fixed-wing aircraft, as naval helicopters are able to operate from a wider variety of ships, including helicopter carriers, destroyers, frigates and container ships.