The Northern Territory and northern Australia are strategically important to Defence, both for national defence and as a forward base for regional engagement.
The Northern Territory is home to 8.2% of Australia's permanent Defence Force personnel with the Territory's total Defence population (including personnel and their families) being approximately 12,000. The Defence community directly contribute to the economic and social development of the region.
The Northern Territory boasts:
- 70% of Australia's Abrams Main Battle Tanks
- 77% of Australia's Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters
- 80% of Australia's Armidale Class Patrol Boats
- A squadron of FA18 Hornet fighters.
Defence recurrent expenditure in the Northern Territory is more than $1.5 billion per year. Defence industry makes a substantial contribution to the Territory economy through the creation of direct and indirect employment and generating demand for local goods and services.
The Australian Government’s 2016 Defence White Paper outlined significant expenditure in the Northern Territory and a focus on investment in national defence infrastructure in Northern Australia.
This investment includes:
- $8 billion spend upgrading Defence facilities in the NT over the next 10 years, with a further $12.2 billion to be spent in the NT in the decade post 2025.
- Infrastructure works at RAAF Base Tindal to support a squadron of the F-35A Joint Strike Fighters, seven P8-A Poseidon aircraft and seven MQ-4C unmanned aircraft.
- 12 new Offshore Patrol Vessels begin service from 2020, replacing the current Armidale Class Patrol Boats, with a number of these home ported in Darwin.
- Upgrades to Bradshaw Field Training Area, Robertson Barracks and Larrakeyah Barracks as well as consideration of a new Northern Advanced Joint Training Area with a potential rail link to RAAF Base Tindal.
- Purpose built facilities at Delamere Air Weapons Range to support personnel training on the EA-18G Growler aircraft.
- Consideration of the construction of a new roll-on/roll-off wharf in Darwin to support amphibious operations of the new Canberra Class Landing Helicopter Dock vessels.
- An increase in the number of multinational exercises the ADF participates in across our immediate region and the broader indo-Pacific.
- Reiteration to work towards the full United States Marine Air-Ground Task Force of around 2500 personnel rotating through Darwin by 2020, with more rotations of United States aircraft expected through northern Australia.
Exercise Pitch Black is a bi-annual three week multi-national large force employment exercise conducted from RAAF Base Darwin and RAAF Base Tindal. Exercise Pitch Black features a range of realistic, simulated threats which can be found in a modern battle-space environment and is an opportunity to test and improve force integration. The exercise typically hosts up to 2,500 personnel and over 100 aircraft from around the globe including participants from Australia, Canada, France (New Caledonia), Germany, Indonesia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and the United States.
Bradshaw Field Training Range is a large Defence property on a former pastoral station near Timber Creek and the Victoria River in the northwest of the Northern Territory. It is used by Australian, US, and other forces from other countries (including Singapore) for infantry and armoured formation manoeuvre, ground and air live firing and bombing
Delamere Air Weapons Range is a large range located approximately 120 kilometres south of Katherine and RAAF Base Tindal. The property is 21,120 hectares. The property is the main air weapons range used by the Royal Australian Air Force. The range is used for high explosive target practice using 500 pound to 2,000 pound explosives, as well as inert explosives and light weapons gunnery practice.