I agree it’s “no” and by a large margin. But as the OP said, let’s show our work.
It’s clear that in the real world an actual USN carrier on patrol would never consent to a supposedly-defecting TU-95 getting close. So we’ll assume this is some sort of pre-arranged test, USN observers aboard the TU-95, RusNav observers aboard the carrier, etc. So we’re just interested in the flight-ops issues of landing, not the whole military/tactical perspective.
I think it’s also pretty clear we’re going to need the full deck area of the carrier, so 100% of the carrier’s aircraft need to be airborne or on the hangar deck. Anything left sitting out on the flight deck will be struck during the TU95’s landing attempt. This is not a problem for our pre-planned test scenario, but would be an insurmountable obstacle in a surprise defection scenario.
We have three issues to contend with: wingspan vs. island clearance, runway weight-bearing capacity, and available runway length.
As to wingspan:
The limiting factor is distance from the left main gear to the right wingtip. Too far right and the wingtip hits the island; too far left and the left main gear runs off the ship’s port side. Either one is game over in spectacular fashion. Unlike a C-130 or similar, the TU-95 has very wide track main gear. See the 3-view diagrams here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tupolev_Tu-95#Specifications_.28Tu-95MS.29
It’s about 85’ from right wingtip to aircraft centerline, and another 20-ish feet from aircraft centerline to the left main gear. So that’s 105’
This was the best Nimitz diagram I was able to find http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ship/cvn-68-schem.htm, and it doesn’t have dimensions. But we know from wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nimitz-class_aircraft_carrier that the deck width is about 250’ at the widest. We see from the diagram it’s a pretty rectangular deck amidships, more so than older carriers were.
I assess the island to consume just over one fifth of the deck width at its location, leaving about 190-200 feet from the port deck edge to the port edge of the island.
That gives us 80-90 feet of slop. Which is frankly a lot more than I expected. I’d seen pix and vid of that C-130 on the Forrestal test, which left me real doubtful about this scenario before I did this research. The Nimitz class carriers’ flight decks are vastly wider than Forrestal was.
Setting aside the pucker factor of landing a big aircraft on a pretty-small boat, we routinely land similar-sized aircraft with left/right accuracy of ±5 feet. ±15 feet off centerline is pretty sloppy but does happen. Given the vagaries of landing on a moving target, some crosswind, etc., I’d give us ±5 feet for a really brass-balled test pilot in a test, ±15 for a more typical test, and even more (±25’?) for a defector trying to wing it.
So speaking just to wingspan, IMO we can do this in a test. And will probably fail 1 in 4 defection attempts. But see the end below for more.
Landing weight: We need to consider both the effect on the airplane and on the carrier.
Airplane: Working from wiki, I ballpark minimum practical landing weight at 205,000 lbs. for a pre-planned test close to shore and a nearby divert airport. That weight is about half of max takeoff weight. At that relative load, I’d expect the landing gear could survive a no-flare landing once without catastrophic failure. I know US airliners can. Oops. It’d probably survive several such landings, but you’d be abusing it pretty good. So this is not an obstacle for our test either.
Unless the aircraft is, as I suspect they really are, a 50 year-old, poorly maintained bucket of bolts with lots of incipient cracking. We’ll ignore that real-world consideration though. Likewise, if we’re doing this on a day with rough seas and the deck is rising while the plane is falling at impact it’ll be a real close shave. On a nice sunny day in flat water, this won’t be the limiting factor. Another vote for OK in test, probable epic fail in a defection.
As to the carrier deck: The heaviest modern carrier aircraft I could find is the C-2 / E-2. Which have empty, useful load, and max takeoff weights which lead me to expect their max landing weight is around 50,000 lbs.
So we’re looking at the TU-95 being about 4x heavier than the heaviest aircraft the carrier typically accepts. The carrier has to be designed for the worst case of rising deck, falling aircraft, and to survive doing that over and over for 20+ years. We’re trying a one-time event under totally benign conditions where minor damage is acceptable. The TU-95 also has extra-large tires versus typical US practice. The Soviets liked their aircraft to handle rough fields & poor snow-plowing. This will spread the impact loads a little bit.
I’m gonna score this one as: We’ll leave wheel dents in the carrier deck on impact, but we won’t break through. But it’ll be iffy. If this was being done in less-than benign test conditions, we’re almost certain to break through the deck and have a spectacular climax.
Aside: I’m assuming the deck strength is engineered based on aircraft landing loads. If instead the deck is built of, say, 10" of armor steel for battle-worthiness then TU-95 landing impact loads are a total non-issue.
Which leaves us with landing length: And this one is truly an epic, epic fail, IMO.
I have detailed performance data handy for 757 & 767. For all practical purposes a Tu-95 is a 757 fuselage connected to a 767 wing. The TU-95 wing has more sweep than a 767, which is bad for landing speeds. But it has more area, which is good. Typically airliners have great brakes, whereas bombers don’t. And the 767’s brake design and materials are 30+ years newer. But the TU-95 huge props are reversible, and that’s a huge drag increment over the thrust reversers on a 767.
For lack of better data, I’m gonna call all those factors a wash. My gut is that’s artificially favoring the TU-95, but that’s just gut, not even the arm-waving math we’ve been doing.
The no-slop, perfect pilot, perfect day, maximum effort landing & stopping distance of a 757 at the relevant percent of load is 3,410 feet from touchdown. For a similarly loaded 767 it’s 4,080 feet. We can save about 1% of stopping distance for each knot of headwind, at least for airliner-typical amounts of wind. The ship can do about 30 knots. And we can probably find smooth-enough water with wind speeds up to about 20 knots. So ballpark we can arrange 50 knots of headwind and save ballpark[sup]2[/sup] 50-ish % of landing distance.
Which gets us down to 1700-2000 feet from touchdown to stopped for 757 & 767. Per our earlier (questionable) assumptions the TU-95 is somewhere near there.
We typically have a fore-aft touchdown dispersion of about +/- 500 feet. If not flaring much and really bearing down on target accuracy we can hit +/- 100 ft. A test pilot dude who’s practiced the maneuver on a runway could do better. A typical Russian bomber squadron pilot who makes one flight and landing every 2 months couldn’t do as well as we do every day.
To avoid the catastrophic error of the main gear hitting the face of the fan-tail instead of making the deck area we’re going to have to aim a little long. So I’m gonna WAG the getting stopped point as 2000-2300 past the fan-tail.
The ship is 1100’ long, and the flight deck is the longest part. So the ship is about 50% too short or the airplane needs about 200% too much runway.
We’re not gonna arm-wave this difference away. IMO the TU-95 goes off the bow in max reverse with max wheel braking while still doing 50+ knots compared to the ship. And is immediately run over by 100,000 tons of high speed steel. Epic Fail. But it will be spectacular.
Wrapping up …
There’s one last practical objection. A look at the ship’s schematic I linked to above shows there’s a notch in the deck at the port aft corner. So to obtain the full deck width we need to touch down well forward of the stern, about 200’ by my estimate. Alternatively if we touch down at the leftmost edge of the true stern, we’re going to have a lot less wingtip clearance going by the island. Say 30 feet instead of 80. Which pretty well eats our error budget for left / right alignment versus wingspan clearing the island.
Given the certainty of going off the bow, I’m not sure how to handicap choosing between aiming for the very stern and having a 50/50 shot at catching a wingtip on the island, but getting an extra 200 feet of run-out versus aiming for the beginning of the wider part of the deck and landing 200’ closer to the inevitable bow drop into the sea.
As Martin Brody (Roy Schneider) famously said about another debacle at sea