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.
“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.