Briefing paper

The Australian Defence Force in northern Australia

9 Jul 2015

Executive summary

  • The Australian Defence Force (ADF) regards northern Australia as strategically important, both for national defence and as a forward base for regional engagement. The ADF presence in northern Australia also directly contributes to the economic and social development of the region.
  • A substantial amount of new ADF assets will either be based or operate in the vicinity of northern Australia, requiring new or upgraded facilities. These include new strike and patrol aircraft as well as the Landing Helicopter Docks (LHDs), Australia’s largest ever warships. The increasing presence of US Marine rotations within northern Australia will also require additional infrastructure and base capacity.
  • However, future growth in the ADF’s northern Australia presence is constrained. Climate factors affect the ADF’s ability to operate in the region and maintain its infrastructure, while northern Australia’s distance from major population centres increases resource costs and can impede retention of personnel. Accordingly, the most cost-effective improvements will likely come through more efficient defence sustainment provided by local northern Australia defence industries.
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