When Barack Obama visited Australia in November last year he and Julia Gillard announced a new level of military cooperation between the United States and Australia.
The public centre-piece of the “announceables” for Obama’s visit was the planned deployment of a United States Marine Air-Ground Task Force to Darwin. Less attention was paid to the second part of the Obama-Gillard announcement of more use of Australian air bases by US aircraft – more visits, more frequent, by a wider range of aircraft.
No detail was provided as to which aircraft or which bases, but already US strategic B-52 and B-2 bombers based in Guam ands the US practice long-range bombing at the huge ADF Delamere Weapons Range in the Northern Territory. Subsequently possible new roles for Australian facilities at HMAS Stirling in Perth, and the Cocos-Keeling islands emerged in the media.