Aircraft carrier

warship primarily designed to carry, support, launch, and recover naval aircraft at sea

Aircraft carriers are warships that carry airplanes and other aircraft like helicopters. They are used by navies to allow aircraft to fight along with naval warships. Aircraft carriers are usually very large, carrying hundreds or thousands of sailors and tens or hundreds of aircraft.

Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, flagship of the Russian navy

The top of an aircraft carrier is called the flight deck and looks like a very small airport. Old aircraft carriers carried airplanes that could takeoff and land in the short distance of the flight deck without help. Similarly, small modern aircraft carriers only carry helicopters or specially designed airplanes such as the Harrier that can take off and land straight up and down or in the short distance of the flight deck.[1]

The flight deck of a large, modern aircraft carrier has a landing area and a take-off area. The landing area is in the back and has a short runway. Airplanes stop by using a hook on the back of the airplane to grab wires stretched across the runway.[2] In the front, the flight deck has a steam-powered catapult that connects to the front wheel of an airplane.[3][4] The catapult pulls and throws the airplane off the deck, helping it take off quickly. So, aircraft carriers are basically small, floating, mobile airports.

Because they are big ships and need much electric power, big modern aircraft carriers are steamships. Some have on-board nuclear power plants[5][6] Others burn fuel oil.

Except for their airplanes, aircraft carriers usually have few weapons, so other warships escort them. Together, the aircraft carrier and these warships form a carrier group.


  1. Duffner, Robert W. (March–April 1984). "Conflict in the South Atlantic: the impact of air power". Air University Review. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Department of the Air Force. ISSN 0002-2594. Archived from the original on 10 January 2010. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  2. "Carrier Arresting Gear: It all Began With Sandbags". 19 November 2013. Archived from the original on 17 April 2021. Retrieved 25 February 2023.
  3. "¤ A C A M ¤ Connexion". Archived from the original on 8 August 2017. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  4. "Launch and Recovery: From Flywheels to Magnets". Archived from the original on 2015-11-25. Retrieved 2015-11-24.   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. "Nuclear-Powered Ships | Nuclear Submarines". Archived from the original on 25 September 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  6. Webster, Paul; Norton-Taylor, Richard (23 August 1993). "French Foil MI6 Carrier Snoop". The Guardian. p. 1.