When looking through various carrier aircraft, I noticed that there seemed to be very few with delta wings. While initially chalking this up to higher stall speeds necessitating higher approach speeds on supersonic deltas, I nevertheless noticed that this seemingly doesn't apply to the Dassault Rafale, nor the HAL Tejas.

Tejas landing on INS Vikramaditya

Rafale landing on a carrier

Is this due to configuration? Would the addition of canards or conversion to a tailed delta permit carrier operations? Or is this not aerodynamic but more based off cost?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'm assuming the first sentence is intended to mean ALL delta wings regardless of whether there is also a tail or canard? Or do you only mean tail-less canardless deltas and want to know why that configuration is so rare? If so the question could benefit from a clarification. The list of carrier aircraft with delta wings AND tails (or canard wings) would be rather long. $\endgroup$ May 14, 2020 at 13:32
  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking for a country in particular, or any country? $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    May 14, 2020 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ @quietflyer I meant delta winged aircraft in general including canard or tailed configurations, I wasn't aware that there were that many with delta wings, seemingly jsut the F4D, A-4, Tejas and Rafale, the rest all have straight, swept or trapezoid wings. $\endgroup$
    – G01
    May 14, 2020 at 14:31
  • $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer In general really, although the planned carrier capable Mirage III specifically was the one that got me interested in the question $\endgroup$
    – G01
    May 14, 2020 at 14:32
  • $\begingroup$ I really appreciate seeing question about aircraft manufactured in non-western country (the HAL Tejas). It is really rare, especially on aviation.SE. $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    May 14, 2020 at 14:41

2 Answers 2


The reason may be change in tactics. The 4FD was designed to intercept aircraft, and as a point defender and dogfighter, it would have been very successful in this role.

But the WW2 scenario of planes appearing overhead to drop bombs changed to planes launching cruise missiles from farther away.

Carrier aircraft need to go further out to intercept them, carrying as much ordinance and fuel as they can. Deltas simply do not do this as well as even lower aspect straight wings, because the design does not lift as efficiently for the amount of drag produced.

Lack of stealth would add to their modern-day woes.

The F4D, in its day, possessed many of the advantages the WW 1 triplane did in maneuverability, this time with cannon and missiles. Like the triplane, it became obsolete.

  • $\begingroup$ Maneuverability around a carrier is still in demand today. Remember that the Boeing X-32 started as a pure delta and grew a horizontal tail later when Navy demands could not be met. And this delta was stealthy, so that is not the reason. $\endgroup$ May 15, 2020 at 11:58
  • $\begingroup$ The F-35C does have more wing. $\endgroup$ May 15, 2020 at 15:20

Just speaking for the case of Naval variant of Tejas, it has the "Leading Edge Vortex Controller - LEVCons' as seen from the photograph, which help lowers the landing speed and maintain the landing distance around ~ 200 meters as per the following article :



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