The project, which is to be delivered by one managing contractor, has two components. The first relates to maintaining the capability of the base, with the objectives focusing on providing infrastructure and trunk engineering services; reducing ongoing maintenance costs and additional living-in accommodation to support deployed airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) personnel.
The second component looks at upgrading the airfield and associated infrastructure to increase the capacity for the KC-30A Multi Role Transport Tankers that operate from the base. The infrastructure delivered by this project will also serve to support the Enhanced Air Cooperation initiative by improving accessibility of US Air Force aircraft to the base.
Defence has said the solution for this project will aim to increase Runway 14/32 length, width, shoulders and strength. In addition a realignment and upgrade of Taxiway A, a new air movement terminal, new aircraft apron, new fuel farm and other associated infrastructure services is to be provided to efficiently operate KC-30A in addition to the existing use by 75SQN and other transiting aircraft.
The planning phase for the project is due to commence in April 2018 and the delivery/construction phase is expected to start after October 2019, with completion scheduled for 2022.
Earlier this year, the US issued tenders for RAAF Base Darwin to be upgraded, with the tenders being managed by the Department of Navy in Hawaii.
Minister for Defence Marise Payne also unveiled a pilot program in September this year for local businesses to have the opportunity to secure up to $7.7 billion in contracts for major Defence infrastructure projects.
The Local Industry Capability Plan in the Northern Territory aims to increase access for NT companies to participate in improving Defence's capabilities over the next decade.
"I have recognised both the contribution local companies make to our defence capability and that we can, and should, do more to maximise those opportunities," Minister Payne said in Darwin.
The pilot projects will require tenderers bidding for major capital facilities projects to state clearly how they have engaged with local industry in providing their tendered solution, and how local industry will specifically be involved in delivering the work packages that underpin the project.
The framework will be piloted on three projects that will go to market in the next few months:
- The Explosive Ordnance Logistics Reform Program, an around $230 million project covering 12 defence sites;
- The Shoalwater Bay Training Area Redevelopment, an around $135 million substantial infrastructure upgrade project; and
- The Townsville Field Training Area Mid-Term Refresh, an around $24 million project to ensure the training area is fit for purpose, safe and environmentally compliant.
NT businesses were left disappointed earlier in the year when they were overlooked for interstate companies that secured multimillion-dollar contracts for upgrades to RAAF Base Tindal.