USAF B-1B Lancers to train with RAAF in Qld

RAAF Base Amberley will host up to two United States Air Force (USAF) B-1B Lancers as part of the United States-Australia Force Posture Initiatives.

The USAF B-1B Lancers are long-range, multi-mission, supersonic conventional bomber aircraft and will be taking part in a training exercise with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) during the last week in November and the first week of December this year.

Minister for Defence Senator the Hon Marise Payne said the training will enable RAAF aircrew to meet flying qualifications and give them an opportunity to exercise with one of the world’s most technologically advanced armed forces.

“This training exercise is part of the United States-Australia Force Posture Initiatives Enhanced Air Cooperation (EAC) program, which builds on a range of air exercises and training activities already undertaken between the United States and Australia,” Minister Payne said.

“The EAC program is a practical demonstration of Australia’s support for a strong and engaged US presence in the region.”

EAC activities involve short term rotations of US aircraft through Australia for up to two months at a time. The first EAC activity commenced in February 2017 at RAAF Base Tindal with 12 USAF F-22 Raptors conducting combined training with RAAF F/A-18 Hornets.

This activity will be the fifth and final EAC activity in 2017. The exercise will involve USAF B-1Bs and RAAF aircraft conducting flying training in designated airspace away from RAAF Base Amberley.

$30 million RAAF Darwin boost

A $30-MILLION upgrade of aircraft facilities in Darwin forms part of the first projects outlined by the US Force Posture Initiative.

The forward work projects involve improving the aircraft maintenance facility and expanding the aircraft parking apron at RAAF Darwin.

More than 200 Territory business were guided through the procurement system of the United States Navy by a team from the Hawaii-based Naval Facilities Engineering Command. NAVFAC is the US Department of Defence organisation responsible for the delivery and management of US-funded military construction projects in Australia. Around $1 billion is expected to be spent as part of the joint Force Posture Initiative, which involves the basing of a 2500 rotational US marine force and a significant air support.

Department of Business chief executive Michael Tennant opened the day telling the group the day was about learning how to engage with the US Department of Defence.

“Today won’t be focused on specific projects, these details will be made available in future briefings,” he said.

“Today is all about working with the US procurement system and follows the event held in late 2016."

To benefit from these opportunities, industry must be prepared to invest the time necessary to learn how to engage in the US procurement system, to gain the necessary accreditations, meet the required Australian and US standards, and follow the processes and procedures required by US Defence or their prime contractors.

“It also requires thinking about how NT businesses might partner with other businesses to grow capability and capacity.”

 

An Australian Defence economic impact assessment released in 2013 estimated that the rotational deployment of just 1100 Marines would increase Gross State Product by $5.6 million in 2014.

Australia to become 'aircraft carrier' for deadly US warplanes

During a visit to Sydney on Wednesday, the commander of the US Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris, signed a 2017 agreement for Australia to host Raptors, which will "send a strong signal about USA military presence in the region"

Euan Graham, the Lowy Institute's director of international security, described the presence of the F-22s as "pretty high-end coercive signalling to China". While the rotation of marines in Darwin got more attention, the stationing of planes was much more strategically significant, he said.

Base camp plan

THERE are fears the Katherine township may not receive the full economic boost it hoped for from the half-billion dollar upgrade to the Tindal RAAF base.

The planned construction of a worker’s camp at the base, to house between 140-200 people, has caught some people by surprise.

Project documents say the “transit accommodation” to house hundreds of workers will be a permanent construction to be used by RAAF personnel after the upgrade work is finished.

“I don’t want Tindal to become like a US military base where they have their own shops and services so people don’t need to come to town,” Katherine MP Sandra Nelson said.

Ms Nelson said she was surprised to learn of the accommodation camp and had expected that most of the project’s workers would be housed in Katherine.

The Defence Department expects to spend between $400-$500 million upgrading Tindal as it prepares for the arrival of Australia’s new jet fighter planes, the F-35a Joint Strike Fighter, or Lightning II.

Some of the senior project managers for one of the chief contractors on the project, Lend Lease, will be employed on a fly in, fly out basis.

“Defence anticipates that much of the construction workforce will come from outside the Katherine area,” information for the Air Combat Facilties Project states.

“Accordingly, as an efficiency measure and to minimise the impact of the project on the availability of housing in the area, Defence proposes to develop a construction accommodation facility for the workforce.

“Long term benefits will be realised by resolving the existing shortfall of transit accommodation on base by refurbishing and retaining the construction accommodation once construction is complete,” project documents state.

Katherine Town Council chief executive Robert Jennings said it was still proposed to house a large number of the upgrade staff in Katherine.

“We have raised the issue of accommodation but we have been reassured the contractors are keen to get the local content high,” Mr Jennings said.

“There have been a number of meetings and a lot of energy has already gone into engaging with Katherine on this project.”

Ms Nelson said the opportunity for “make a noise” on the accommodation facility was likely gone.

“There is scope for this community to push harder on the later stages, it’s not too late, and we don’t want to miss out.”

Katherine Chamber of Commerce president Kevin Gray said Katherine was “extremely lucky” to have Tindal on its doorstep.

“I don’t want Tindal to become like a US military base where they have their own shops and services so people don’t need to come to town,” Katherine MP Sandra Nelson said.

Sounds of War: Deadly Noise Around USA Bases

Residents near military air bases producing ''lethal'' levels of noise suffer from hearing loss, insomnia, stroke, heart attacks - even death.

Growing numbers of USA residents are finding themselves in the firing line of domestic military expansionism, whether it be living in areas subjected to chronic, harmful jet noise, or having their fishing areas disrupted and polluted by Naval war gaming exercises. For many, the issue could literally be a matter of life and death.

The impacts of noise pollution are often underestimated. Its effects span a broad range of health issues, many of which don't seem connected with sound or hearing at first glance.