The three variants perform similarly and are mainly distinguished by their different basing requirements. As a result, the F-35B and F-35C have unique ways to take off and land - due to their requirements for short take-off and landing or landing on carriers.
Using much of the same parts across the three variants allows for service-specific aircraft while allowing for savings to be made as a result of parts and processes being common to all three variants.
The F-35C carrier variant (CV) is the carrier variant, designed to be the US Navy’s first stealth fighter and the world’s only 5th Generation, long-range stealth strike fighter designed and built explicitly for aircraft carrier operations.
The F-35C variant has larger wings and more robust landing gear than the other variants, making it suitable for the US Navy's catapult launches and fly-in arrestments aboard naval aircraft carriers.
Its wingtips also fold to allow for more room on the carrier’s deck while deployed.
The F-35C has a greater internal fuel capacity than the other two F-35 variants.