Defence presence in NT

The Northern Territory and northern Australia are strategically important to Defence, both for national defence and as a forward base for regional engagement.

The Northern Territory is home to 8.2% of Australia's permanent Defence Force personnel with the Territory's total Defence population (including personnel and their families) being approximately 12,000. The Defence community directly contribute to the economic and social development of the region.

The Northern Territory boasts:

  • 70% of Australia's Abrams Main Battle Tanks
  • 77% of Australia's Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters
  • 80% of Australia's Armidale Class Patrol Boats
  • A squadron of FA18 Hornet fighters.

Defence recurrent expenditure in the Northern Territory is more than $1.5 billion per year. Defence industry makes a substantial contribution to the Territory economy through the creation of direct and indirect employment and generating demand for local goods and services. 

In addition the Defence industry stimulates the economy through major Defence operations and exercises that are held in the region and infrastructure projects that typically engage local businesses.

Defence in the economy

Defence spent $1.69 billion in the Territory in 2014-15, or around 7.2% of Gross State Product (GSP). That is expected to increase to around $2.6 billion or 10% of GSP due to the impact of increased Defence infrastructure spending.

The Australian Government’s 2016 Defence White Paper outlined significant expenditure in the Northern Territory and a focus on investment in national defence infrastructure in Northern Australia.

This investment includes:

  1. $8 billion spend upgrading Defence facilities in the NT over the next 10 years, with a further $12.2 billion to be spent in the NT in the decade post 2025.
  2. Infrastructure works at RAAF Base Tindal to support a squadron of the F-35A Joint Strike Fighters, seven P8-A Poseidon aircraft and seven MQ-4C unmanned aircraft.
  3. 12 new Offshore Patrol Vessels begin service from 2020, replacing the current Armidale Class Patrol Boats, with a number of these home ported in Darwin.
  4. Upgrades to Bradshaw Field Training Area, Robertson Barracks and Larrakeyah Barracks as well as consideration of a new Northern Advanced Joint Training Area with a potential rail link to RAAF Base Tindal.
  5. Purpose built facilities at Delamere Air Weapons Range to support personnel training on the EA-18G Growler aircraft.
  6. Consideration of the construction of a new roll-on/roll-off wharf in Darwin to support amphibious operations of the new Canberra Class Landing Helicopter Dock vessels.
  7. An increase in the number of multinational exercises the ADF participates in across our immediate region and the broader indo-Pacific.
  8. Reiteration to work towards the full United States Marine Air-Ground Task Force of around 2500 personnel rotating through Darwin by 2020, with more rotations of United States aircraft expected through northern Australia.

For information about the performance and outlook for the Defence sector in the Northern Territory read the Strategic Defence NT Budget Paper 2015-2016 (1.1 mb).

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) makes a significant contribution to the Territory's population and economy with more than 5.4% of total Defence expenditure occurring in the Territory.

Last updated: 13 October 2017