Australia will need 12 large, long-range submarines to shape its strategic future in the wake of warnings about China’s growing military power, Paul Dibb, former head of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University, has said.

Speaking at a Submarine Institute conference in Perth, Dibb said the country would ignore its unique strategic geography at its own peril and a central strategic priority for Australia should be a large potent submarine force.

“We do not require two 27,000t amphibious assault ships that will require protection by most of our surface, sub-surface and combat air patrol forces so they can put a token land force ashore,” he added.

According to the government’s current white paper report, the country requires 12 long-range submarines, which will cost A$36bn. The first boat will be operational from 2020.