A pair of Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flew over northern Australia during a training mission Monday, according to Australia’s Department of Defence.
Expect to see more B-1Bs in Australia in future, according to Ross Babbage, a former Australian assistant defense secretary.
The AUKUS defense pact announced by Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States in September includes provisions to make it easier for allied ships and aircraft to operate Down Under, he said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, is the base for a 2,500-strong air-ground task force of U.S. Marines during the southern hemisphere winter.
Northern Australia provides easy access to Southeast Asia and beyond. It includes a broad logistics and industrial support base, plenty of air space and ranges for training and a friendly local population, Babbage said.
"There is substantial expansion of fuel and other capabilities being built in northern Australia to support these types of operations," he said.
The B-1Bs rendezvoused over the Timor Sea with two Australian tankers, which transferred fuel to them at an altitude of 30,000 feet, according to the statement.