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US-funded fuel facility completed at RAAF Base Darwin

A Royal Australian Air Force aviator from Combat Support Group watches as a Hot Refuel is conducted on a F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft during Exercise Talisman Sabre 23 at RAAF Base Darwin. Photo: LAC Chris Tsakisiris

The Australian federal government has welcomed a new United States-funded fuel facility completed at RAAF Base Darwin, as a significant milestone in the partnership between Australia and the US.

The Australian federal government has welcomed a new United States-funded fuel facility completed at RAAF Base Darwin, as a significant milestone in the partnership between Australia and the US.

Valued at US$76 million, the fuel storage project was managed by the United States Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Pacific with the construction contract awarded to Nova Nacap JV, a United States–Australian joint venture. Construction was completed in June 2023.

The newly completed fuel facility is designed to enhance operational capabilities and support for training exercises to enable enhanced air cooperation between the countries and is a significant investment under the United States Force Posture Initiatives (USFPI) infrastructure program.

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Australian businesses and joint ventures have won four of the five US-funded contracts for capital infrastructure delivery under the Force Posture Agreement, representing approximately US$198 million of United States investment since the start of the USFPI.

Celia Perkins, Deputy Secretary Security and Estate, said Australia and the United States are investing in a range of projects to enable enhanced force posture cooperation, with significant opportunities for Australian industry involvement across sectors including construction, professional services, maintenance, and logistics.

“Defence has engaged extensively with the United States on this project ensuring we have the enablers in place to best support activities under the Force Posture Agreement,” Perkins said.

“Infrastructure to support USPFI is located across the Defence estate, including at Robertson Barracks and RAAF Bases Darwin and Tindal, as well as training areas across the Northern Territory.”

The Enhanced Air Cooperation (EAC) was originally announced as an initiative in February 2017. The program, designed to deepen air-to-air integration, includes activities relating to integration of advanced and combined warfighting capabilities, collaborative airbase operations and combat support, cooperation with air-power enabling capabilities, collaborative logistics supporting airpower, and bilateral regional engagement.

EAC provides opportunities to enhance Australia and US engagement with regional partner air forces through involvement in exercises and training activities.

The project also aligns with the Government’s response to the Defence Strategic Review to increase preparedness, invest in our northern infrastructure network, and deliver resilient fuel solutions.

Earlier this year, the Defence Strategic Review (DSR), unveiled on Monday, 24 April, recommended the Australian Army would be optimised for long-range strike capability and littoral operations in northern land and maritime spaces, while the Royal Australian Air Force would support operations in the north through surveillance, air defence, strike, and air transport.

The Australian Defence Force’s ability to operate from Australia’s northern bases was identified as a key priority area under the DSR recommendations,

The report recommended major works on northern air bases including improvements to runway and apron capacity, fuel supply and storage, accommodation and security.

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