Naval aviation is the application of military air power by navies, whether from warships that embark aircraft, or land bases.
In contrast, maritime aviation is the operation of aircraft in a maritime role, under the command of non-naval forces such as an air force (e.g., the former RAF Coastal Command) or a coast guard. An exception to this is the United States Coast Guard, which is considered part of U.S. naval aviation. In addition, in that the United States Marine Corps is part of the United States Department of the Navy and one of its naval services, that force's aircraft and aviation personnel are also considered part of U.S. naval aviation, whether based afloat or ashore.
Naval aviation is typically projected to a position nearer the target by way of an aircraft carrier. Carrier-based aircraft must be sturdy enough 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 flight deck; they typically have robust folding mechanisms that allow higher numbers of them to be stored in below-decks hangars and small spaces on flight decks. These aircraft are designed for many purposes, including air-to-air combat, surface attack, submarine attack, search and rescue, matériel transport, weather observation, reconnaissance and wide area command and control duties.