Marine Rotational Force – Darwin arrives

Military activity in the Territory is set to soar, with more than one thousand Marines arriving in the Top End for the 13th rotation of Marine Rotational Force - Darwin.

On Friday, Marines got a taste for the Top End’s conditions as they stepped onto the airstrip tarmac.

The new rotation’s Commanding Officer Colonel Brian Mulvihill said his troops were “excited” to get started.

ADF Commanding Officer Headquarters Northern Command, Captain Mitchell Livingstone, said the next eight months would involve high-end training.

“I’m pleased to welcome the 13th iteration of MRF-D to the Top End,” he said.

“These rotations not only help build interoperability between the ADF and the US, but also serve to increase regional cooperation with partner nations in the Indo-Pacific.

“Over the next eight months, the ADF and USMC will conduct a comprehensive range of training activities, including humanitarian assistance, security operations, and live-fire exercises, all of which better prepare our forces to respond effectively to contingencies that may arise.”

Marines back in Australia during six months of training across South Pacific

U.S. Marines have returned to northern Australia as part of a six-month training tour across the South Pacific that will also include drills in the Philippines and Indonesia.

They’ll be supported by Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268 out of Hawaii flying MV-22 B Osprey aircraft.

Ospreys began flying again this month after being grounded following the Nov. 29 crash of an Air Force Osprey off the coast of Japan that killed eight airmen. An Osprey crash in Australia in August killed three Marines attached to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 363 during last year’s rotation to the Northern Territory.

In Australia, the Marines will join numerous training events, including Southern Jackaroo, which typically involves Japanese troops; Bhakti Kanyini AUSINDO, which involved Indonesian forces last year; and the aviation-focused Pitch Black, Diamond Storm and HELICON LUK.

NT businesses can benefit from massive upgrades at RAAF Darwin

The US Defence Department is seeking businesses for extensive upgrades to RAAF Base Darwin.

The works are part of the US Force Posture initiative to enhance security in the Asia-Pacific region - including construction of a parking apron, a maintenance support facility and an aircraft maintenance hangar at RAAF Base Darwin.

The contract also includes an aircraft rinse facility, aircraft wash rack, helicopter landing pads and supporting facilities as well as construction of Marine aviation logistics squadron and Marine wing support squadron facilities - as well as a Type 11 aircraft maintenance hangar, telecommunications distribution facility, supporting facilities, utility connections, site improvements and earthworks.

Under the Force Posture, Australian businesses and joint ventures have won United States-funded infrastructure contracts to the value of almost US$200m.

This includes the completion of a new fuel facility at RAAF Base Darwin to support enhanced air co-operation between the United States and Australia and construction of a US tank storage facility at East Arm, which is behind schedule but expected to be completed by July.

In addition, tens-of-millions was spent upgrading RAAF Base Tindal in Katherine to support KC-30A multi role tanker transport operations, which Defence said will enhance air mobility, including air-to-air refuelling and air logistics support missions.



Tens-of-millions more have been spent developing the MQ-4C Triton drone, four of which will be deployed at RAAF Base Tindal near Katherine from later this year.

United States commits to spend hundreds of millions more on NT Defence assets

On top of the A$429m committed for 2024, the United States’s total expenditure in the Northern Territory since President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Darwin in 2011 has passed the billon-dollar mark.

This includes the East Arm refuelling tank farm which will come in at about $200m when completed and the Marine Rotational Force which is based at Robertson Barracks during the Dry.

On top of its previous spending, the US has budgeted A$192.4m for new parking aprons at RAAF Base Darwin.

It’s understood the new aprons will be used by the US Navy for marine aircraft.



In addition, the USA Airforce has allocated about A$229m upgrading facilities at both RAAF Darwin and Tindal.

AUKUS partners to unleash new defence technology plan

Australia is prioritising autonomous military technology, information warfare and quantum computing in the secretive second phase of the AUKUS pact.

Details of the second pillar – on top of Australia’s $368bn commitment to acquire nuclear submarines – have been closely held since the pact was unveiled more than two years ago.

But officials have been meeting in working groups across technologies including artificial intelligence, hypersonic missiles and advanced cyber, which Prof Munro said had been a “forcing function for winnowing down what we do” to meet frontline security needs.

Speaking at the Center for a New American Security last month, she suggested Australia was focused on autonomous technology, automated intelligence and information warfare tools, and the “very significant disruption coming” through quantum.

The Prime Minister is due to arrive in the US on Monday for a four-day trip including a prestigious state dinner at the White House.