The first project to be completed under the United States Force Posture Initiatives (USFPI) has been opened in Darwin.
Defence representatives from Australia and the United States (US) attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at RAAF Base Darwin on October 22, along with representatives from local Northern Territory company Sunbuild, which constructed the aircraft maintenance support facility (AMSF).
The US-funded 557 metre-square pre-engineered building will be used to store ground support equipment to support United States Air Force (USAF) aircraft operating in Australia under the USFPI.
The USFPI are an extension of Australia’s existing Defence relationship with the US and provide security benefits for both countries by deepening interoperability, increasing engagement with regional partners and better positioning both nations to respond to crises in the region.
Australia and the US have agreed to invest about $2 billion in infrastructure in the Northern Territory to enable the initiatives.
Director Logistics Air Command, Group Captain Grant Pinder, hosted US Brigadier General Jeffrey King (Director Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection Headquarters Pacific Air Forces) for the event.
“I am pleased to be part of this momentous occasion and I expect the AMSF to be the first of many projects to come. Its success is indicative of the effort and collaboration between our two nations,” General King said.
“It will ensure we can deliver a prompt response to disaster relief and humanitarian efforts.”
Group Captain Pinder said the facility would be used for tanker and cargo aircraft support equipment storage.
“It will ensure we can deliver a prompt response to disaster relief and humanitarian efforts,” Group Captain Pinder said.
“This occasion also provides an opportunity to acknowledge the large amount of work by our two nations to achieve what we see today. It is great to be here with General King to mark this occasion.”
The facility has been constructed to support enhanced air cooperation (EAC) activities, one of the two initiatives under the USFPI.
EAC is a key component of the USFPI, designed to strengthen the ability of Australian and US air forces to work together, and with regional partners, in the interests of regional stability and security.
It aims to strengthen bilateral collaboration through increased participation of US air elements in a range of training activities and exercises with the Australian Defence Force.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was also attended by US Navy Captain Tres Meek, Deputy Commander for Operations, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific, and Sunbuild Director and Construction Manager Jim Eadie.
“Sunbuild was very excited about the prospect to work with the US Department of Defense,” Mr Eadie said.
“Being the first project rolled out between the US and an Australian company under the USFPI, it has provided many learning opportunities for Sunbuild to work with the US Government.
“Opportunities like this will provide direct economic growth for the Top End.
“The most rewarding aspect of the project has been the support and strong relationships that have grown, whether this was in Canberra, Darwin, Guam or Honolulu. All concerned have put their heart and soul into making this pioneering project the success it is today.”
The next infrastructure project to be completed under the USFPI, which will be funded by Australia, will provide modular accommodation facilities at RAAF Base Darwin to support the other initiative under the USFPI – the Marine Rotational Force-Darwin.