Austin has been the subject of transfer speculation all summer, but remains at Championship side QPR.
He was prolific for QPR last season, netting 18 Premier League goals, and Cottee believes even if he contributes just two-thirds of that tally he will prove value for money for Tim Sherwood's Aston Villa side.
He said: "Villa need to replace Benteke. I was a big fan, he was a good player for Villa.
"They have got a lot of money, the £14-15 million they need for Austin. You need a striker to get 10-12 goals, get Charlie Austin in, he guarantees safety."
Austin's goals did not, however, guarantee safety for QPR last season as they suffered relegation - but after the strengthening already this summer, the rest of Villa's squad should ensure that with Austin they will be too good to get dragged into another relegation battle.
Villa are a side who were not so long ago competing for positions at the top end of the table, and one signing will not return them there overnight, but Austin - or a striker like him - would give them a strong nudge in the right direction.
The club have bought Jordan Ayew and Rudy Gestede this summer to bolster their attack, but it is likely there will be further additions before the transfer window closes.