US air power is growing alongside Marine Corps in Australia’s Northern Territory
The Enhanced Air Cooperation initiative focused this year on fifth-generation fighter integration, aero-medical evacuation and aircraft maintenance.
Thousands of U.S. Marines on an Australian Army base this summer might be the most visible example of America’s growing military presence Down Under. But the nations’ air forces are growing equally close under a lesser-known program known as Enhanced Air Cooperation, or EAC.
The initiative, which kicked off in 2017, focused this year on fifth-generation fighter integration, aero-medical evacuation and aircraft maintenance. It involved U.S. F-22 Raptor, F-35B Lightning II, F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-15 Eagle fighters, B-52 strategic bombers and C-130J Super Hercules transports.
The Air Force’s activities in the Northern Territory, along with those of the Marines, are being supported with $2 billion worth of new military infrastructure funded by the U.S. and Australia, according to the Australian Defence Force.
At RAAF Darwin, for example, $88.65 million worth of projects have been awarded to build fuel tanks, expand the airfield and erect maintenance facilities.
These and other projects at RAAF Darwin are scheduled to be accomplished by 2023