USA makes $300m push to expand naval facilities in the NT

The United States military is preparing to spend more than a quarter of a billion dollars on naval construction in the Northern Territory, in a move that could raise tensions with China.

the Defence Department says it is still too early to comment on what the US military may have planned in the Northern Territory.

"The referenced document is the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorises (but does not appropriate) Defence initiatives," the Department said in a statement.

"It is still progressing through the US Congress and must be reconciled with the House version before it is finalised. It is not yet approved.

"We expect the US Department of Defense will provide details of the funding in accordance with its processes and timelines following consideration and approval within the United States Government."

The draft US legislation also outlines several other proposed spending projects in the Northern Territory including $US50 million for a "new airport parking apron for the Navy", and $US70.6 million for the Air Force at Tindall.

Galapagos island 'to be used by US military'

Ecuador’s decision to allow US planes to use a San Cristobal airfield prompts environmental concerns.

Opposition congressman Carlos Viteri said the agreement with the US was "unacceptable" and should be prohibited if "it intends to cede an inch of Ecuadorian territory".

Under Article 5 of Ecuador's constitution, the country is "a territory of peace" and the "establishment of foreign military bases or foreign facilities for military purposes shall not be allowed".

Ecuador's former president Rafael Correa also reacted angrily, tweeting (in Spanish) that the island was "not an aircraft carrier" for the Americans.

The Galapagos Islands, 563 miles (906km) west of continental Ecuador, are a Unesco World Heritage site renowned worldwide for their unique array of plants and wildlife.

Two Top End military aircraft experienced in-flight issues within 24 hours

TWO military aircraft experienced mid-flight malfunctions over Top End skies within 24 hours of each other.

A Royal Australian Air Force spokeswoman said a C130 aircraft a USAF F-16 fighter jet were involved in separate incidents on Monday and Tuesday.

She said a C130 aircraft was returning to Darwin at 5.35pm on Monday when an engine “malfunctioned”, but the aircraft was able to land safely without incident.

The next day the USAF F-16 aircraft experienced an in-flight emergency and was forced to return to the base early ending its flight.

“The aircraft dumped fuel in accordance with normal procedures. The aircraft landed safely using the cable at approximately 9.10pm

Exercise Diamond Storm began in late April and runs until May 29 with aircraft operating out of RAAF Bases Tindal and Darwin. According to the RAAF, the exercise is the final phase of the Air Warfare Instructor Course, a three phase intensive six-month course that integrates war fighting functions across a range of specialisations.

Marines are bringing more air power than ever to annual training in Australia

Aircraft deploying to Australia’s Northern Territory include 10 MV-22 Osprey tiltrotors, four AH-1Z Vipers and three UH-1Y Venom helicopters, a Marine spokesman said.

Aircraft deploying for the rotation include 10 MV-22 Osprey tiltrotors, four AH-1Z Vipers and three UH-1Y Venom helicopters, Marine spokesman 1st Lt. Colin Kennard said in an email.

The aircraft represent “the most capable Aviation Combat Element” sent to Darwin since the rotational deployments began in 2011, he said.

“These aircraft increase the training value for MRF-D activities and increase our ability to respond to contingencies within the Indo-Pacific region,” he said.

To facilitate operations for the U.S.A. helicopters, temporary airfield matting has been installed at RAAF base Darwin.

U.S. chopper makes emergency landing on Ikeijima Island, Okinawa

A U.S. military helicopter carrying four people made an emergency landing Saturday afternoon on a small islet in Okinawa Prefecture.

The chopper apparently landed about 100 meters from a house, a local resident said.

The aviation incident is the latest involving U.S. aircraft in the prefecture, where opposition to the huge U.S. military presence is rife.

The island is the same one where an AH-1 attack helicopter based at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma made an emergency landing on a farm path on Jan. 20 last year.

“I’m speechless. The frequency is too often. It cannot be helped but to think there’s a systemic problem within the U.S. military,” Okinawa Deputy Gov. Moritake Tomikawa told reporters.

“I felt it was dangerous because the helicopter was lowering altitude and heading toward the coast with a rattling noise,” he said. “The U.S. military always prioritizes military operations and neglects the anxieties of local residents,” said Tamaki, who heads the local residents’ association.