Billion dollar expansion at Air Base

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By end-2016 a workforce of 1500 contractor staff will be working on infrastructure projects at the air base to accommodate and provide services for the rapid expansion of air power capability underway at RAAF Base Amberley.

“This is one of our busiest years in terms of base development, with about 10 projects in the pipeline,” said Mr Matt Clarke, the Base Support Manager.

“Over the next four years the projects planned total is just on one billion dollars.”

One of the first projects to commence will provide construction of facilities for the Australian Army’s 17th Construction Squadron’s move to Amberley next year, with its 200 soldiers.

“Another major project is to provide facilities for the squadron of ten C-27J Spartan aircraft, replacing the Caribou aircraft, bringing around 300 RAAF personnel onto the base, requiring similar facilities to those for the eight C-17s with 36 Squadron,” Mr Clarke said.

With the number of C-17s on base increasing from the original four to six, and now eight, and the government deciding to buy an additional two KC-30s a new hangar and tarmac area needs to be constructed for 36 Squadron. Approval for this $220 million project is expected this year.

Under a Flight Line Master Plan area a large parcel of land to the west of the runway will become tarmac space for heavy air lift aircraft types and facilities for 36 Squadron, creating a heavy air lift operations precinct parallel to the main runway.

Existing squadrons flying the C-17 Globemaster, KC-30 Multirole Tanker Transport and F/A-18F Super Hornet will be joined in the future by the C-27J Tactical Airlift Squadron, the Growler EA-18G Electronic Warfare Squadron and the Heron UAV flight.

For No 6 Squadron, with its 12 new EA-18G Growlers, new facilities equivalent to those of No 1 Squadron (Super Hornets) will be built.

Space is also being reserved for any future new squadrons, such as any possible move to Amberley of other aircraft types.

This realignment of the operational and support precincts will also involve road diversions and relocation of some facilities close to the runway. Under a national project Amberley will get a new Air Traffic Control Tower and the existing Fire Station will be replaced. The new Air Traffic Control tower will be positioned on the eastern (Ipswich) side of the main runway.

Under the 20-year plan the iconic Amberley ‘corner’ that has been a feature of the base for more than 75 years will go, and become part of the Air Base’s history, along with the aircraft types that have operated there.

On the domestic front, a new multi-level carpark will be built to provide parking to service the operations precinct on-base.

“Amberley is already Australia’s largest air base, and when these projects are completed it will be our largest Defence base,” Mr Clarke said. “Most projects will be completed by 2019, with small project elements continuing after that.”