"It's difficult to train pilots up to land on what is effectively a moving airfield," Townshend said. "While China will learn from the successes and failures of every country that has gone before it, it does take a lot of time and China has less than 100 airmen who are being trained to fly their version of a carrier aircraft."
Meanwhile, as India and China size up each other in the carrier war, analysts say it has to be remembered that both carrier nations have ships that are a third the size of the U.S. Nimitz class ships.
"For the Chinese, a lot of it is tied up with a story about itself becoming a great power," Townshend said. "For China to be a great power it must be a great maritime power and to be a great power it must have carriers and blue water naval platforms."