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Australia to upgrade key northern bases to support expanded training with US

Key military training bases in northern Australia are to receive upgrades amounting to AUD747 million (USD578.4 million) to support expanded live exercises and simulation activities with the United States and other allies, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on 28 April.

The five-year programme involves Robertson Barracks and the Kangaroo Flats field firing range outside Darwin, the 117,000 ha Mount Bundey Training Area 115 km east of Darwin, and the 817,000 ha Bradshaw Field Training Area about 600 km southwest of Darwin.

All four facilities are used by Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and elements of a US Marine Corps rotational force that undertakes approximately six month-long independent and combined training with Australian units in the Northern Territory during the dry season, which extends from May to October.

The upgrades will provide enhanced firing and demolition ranges, weapons training simulation systems, support facilities, and an extended runway at Mount Bundey to accommodate larger aircraft.

Speaking in Darwin, the prime minister described the upgrades as an investment that keeps Australians safe, and “advances and protects our national interests in what is a very uncertain world and can be a very uncertain region, a region in which there are many pressures”.

“Working with the United States, our allies, and Indo-Pacific neighbours, we will continue to advance Australia’s interests by investing in the Australian Defence Force, particularly across northern Australia,” he added.

In February 2020 Canberra announced a AUD1.1 billion upgrade to Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Tindal, 320 km southeast of Darwin. The base is regarded as one of Australia’s most strategically important defence facilities.

The upgrades will support the stationing of RAAF F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters and boost military ties with the US.

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