Land Forces 24 728x90 WEB 240202 01Australia has long relied on geographic isolation as a form of defence, but such a premise is no longer assured against the dominant military threat in the Indo-Pacific region – China and its two-million-strong People’s Liberation Army.

A report published by the Lowy Institute in 2021 included a map showing how northern Australia is within range of DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missiles fired from the South China Sea; most of Australia is within range of CJ-20 land attack cruise missiles fired from H-6K bombers; and all of Australia is within striking distance of ballistic missiles launched from H-6N bombers. Of course, China’s nuclear-tipped submarine-launched and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles – whose inventory has grown alarmingly without any explanation from Beijing – can devastate virtually any city on earth.

Australia was inexcusably late in recognising China as a military threat, but last year’s Defence Strategic Review acknowledged, “China’s military build-up is now the largest and most ambitious of any country since the end of the Second World War.” Correspondingly, it pointed out the Australian Defence Force must have the ability to “hold an adversary at risk farther from our shores,” especially since northern Australia and its northern approaches are strategically vulnerable. Indeed, one of six immediate actions urged in the Defence Strategic Review was to develop a long-range precision strike capability and manufacture munitions domestically.

Talking the talk, Defence Minister Richard Marles commented: “The war in Ukraine has demonstrated the importance of having not just war stocks, but a domestic missile manufacturing industry…” But is Australia walking the talk?

This is an excerpt from APDR. To read the full story, click here.


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