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RAAF Base Tindal to receive $1bn upgrade

written by Adam Thorn | February 21, 2020

The Northern Territory’s RAAF Base Tindal is set to receive a $1.1 billion upgrade, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced.

The majority of the money, $737 million, will be spent extending the runway and creating a new fuel storage facility to allow for larger aircraft to call it home.

Once complete, it is expected to house some of the RAAF’s 72 new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets, as well as US long-range bombers.

The Prime Minister said, “It will be integral to our alliance with the United States, and [will] increase the reach of Air Force capabilities in the Indo-Pacific.

The Northern Territory’s RAAF Base Tindal

“As part of these upgrades, RAAF Base Tindal will be able to deliver enhanced air-to-air refuelling and air support capabilities, ensuring we can support critical ADF operations — everything from air combat missions through to responding to natural disasters both at home and throughout our region.”


The move is thought to be part of both the US and Australia’s strategic push into the Indo-Pacific region.

An additional $437 million will provide critical base infrastructure upgrades, such as engineering services on the base including power, water and sewage, as well as 108 new live-in units for Australian Defence Force personnel.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said, “The 2016 Defence White Paper identified northern Australia as strategically important, both for national defence and as a forward base for regional engagement.”

The $1.1 billion is part of a more substantial $1.6 billion investment in the Australian Defence Force that will create 300 jobs alone in the construction phase.

RAAF Base Tindal, originally called Carson’s Airfield, is located 15 kilometres outside Katherine and 320 kilometres south-east of Darwin, and was first constructed in 1942 during World War II.

It is considered one of the Air’s Force’s key sites, and its staff make up almost 25 per cent of Katherine’s population of 10,000 people.

It received its first significant upgrade in 1984 when it was declared an operational Air Force Base, and had its official opening in October 1988.

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Comments (13)

  • Jasper


    Probably not in time for Pitch Black 2020 which will be later in the year, but nevertheless a positive strategic investment.

  • Iain


    So Tindal must be in a marginal seat then!

  • Mick C


    “Is expected to house the RAAFs 72 new fighter Jets”
    Wasn’t aware the RAAF was moving the entire F-35 fleet incl 2OCU to Tindal, have me doubts about that. As far as i am aware the plan is 3 and 77 sqns + the OCU would stay at Willy Town and 75 sqn would stay at Tindal.

    • DRN


      ‘some of’ the RAAFs 72 new fighter jets. The reason that you weren’t aware is that it isn’t happening.

  • Patrickk


    I am not sure it will house all of the 72 F35s as suggested. They will share with Williamstown as no way they will put all the frontline fighters in the same airbase (memories of peal harbour).

    • anon


      Putting them at Williamstown certainly does conjure up images of a harbour. They’d be hard pressed to fund a runway, though!

    • DRN


      @PATRICKX Another one who can’t read properly!

  • Raymond


    “[Tindal] is expected to house the RAAF’s 72 new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets…”

    No, some (approx. 16), not all 72!

  • Mike Reed


    Carson airfield (now RAAF Base Tindal) was constructed but never operational during WWII.

  • Bernard


    Silly to put all your eggs in one basket. Spread it round a bit for safety and operation efficiency in my view. I can understand the need to have major maintenance in one area, so rotating aircraft or squadrons round sounds ok too.

  • Gary


    Adam – correction please. Tindal will not house all 72 F35A aircraft! 14 to 16 approx; however not all the fleet. Williamtown will go absolutely bonkers.

  • Gary Smith


    Why has my comment requesting correction been withdrawn? A simple check of Tindal Stage 6 works outline confirms only F35s allocated to 75 Sqn will be based at Tindal. All othets remaun in situ at Williamtown.

  • chugs


    I could easily see a day in the event of war where Tindall is hosting a very large number of combat aircraft, and not just that owned by the RAAF.

    Be it wargames or an actual war

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