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VAMPIRE VAMPIRE VAMPIRE: The PLA’s anti-ship cruise missile threat to Australian and allied naval operations

By Dr Sam Goldsmith

This report examines anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM) possessed by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which is China’s armed forces, and the serious threat posed to Australian and allied naval forces operating in the Indo-Pacific region.

The PLA has spent over 20 years preparing to fight and win wars against technologically advanced adversaries, such as the United States and its allies. PLA preparations have included long-term investments in various capabilities that would be needed to facilitate and sustain ASCM strike operations, even whilst under heavy attack from technologically advanced powers.

This report has recommended a series of upgrades to Australian Navy capability. In the short term, military-off-the-shelf upgrades might significantly enhance the survivability of existing surface ships. In the medium term, a mix of crewed and uncrewed assets could not only deepen fleet magazines but also underpin offensive naval and air defence operations. In the longer-term, a range of options could be acquired to help break the PLA’s kill-chain – this refers to disrupting the PLA’s ability to find, track and engage naval assets with ASCMs.