Two former RAAF chiefs have called for an urgent review of Australia's strike capabilities to meet the threat from China amid concerns of a US withdrawal from the region.
Retired air marshals Leo Davies and Geoff Brown say Australia may need to acquire a strategic bomber, drones and land-based ballistic missiles to better defend the nation and protect maritime routes in the future.
Back in August, a military expert nominated the Tindal RAAF Base as a likely location to base US missiles.
The suggestion has come despite the Federal Government emphatically denying any request had yet been made on the issue.
The rise of China's military ambitions in the Asia-Pacific led to missile talk during a high-level visit of the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Defence Secretary Mark Esper.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says his nation is "constantly" evaluating the way it defends itself, Australia, and the region, including the placement of tools such as missile systems.
"We'll now do the things we need to do to create stability and peace and as we do that we will evaluate whether there are certain systems, certain missile systems that make sense to put in certain countries," he said.
This week, Mr Brown predicted the air force was likely to overtake the army as the security force of "first resort''.
"As an advanced technological nation about to get deeply into space we should be playing to our strengths,'' he told the newspaper.
"Investment in air crew and technology is actually incredibly efficient for a small nation with an educated population."
Mr Davies said the 1999 East Timor intervention saw Australia focusing on building up its land forces and this focus has now gone too far, considering the changes in the strategic environment.
"Everyone though conventional wars were almost a thing of the past," Mr Davies said.
"That judgement now looks rather optimistic."
Mr Davies said conventional threats were now more relevant than counter-insurgency.
He said Australia needed to be able to impose "transaction costs" on countries infringing on our trade routes, with the Indo-Pacific set to become a focal point for US / China rivalry.
- with Australian Associated Press