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Queensland Defence facilities upgrades to benefit military, industry and community

A range of new or upgraded Defence-related facilities are being built around the state, with more than $1 billion expenditure recently approved for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Amberley expansion works and several other Queensland-based projects being referred for approval to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. These projects will provide improved military capability, as well as significant flow-on work opportunities for local industry.

RAAF Base Amberley is currently being expanded and will soon see two new C-17 Globemaster aircraft (costing about $350 million each) added to its existing fleet of six. The battlefield airlifter facilities project investment also includes $300 million to upgrade Amberley's facilities to house and maintain the new airlifters, due for delivery late 2015 and late 2016. Upgrades include a dedicated maintenance hangar and expanded apron and taxi-way to cater for heavy aircraft. The two additional C-17s will provide vital heavy airlift support to a range of regional and global coalition operations and greatly increase Australia's capacity to provide rapid and effective disaster rescue, relief and humanitarian aid. Construction is expected to begin in 2016 and be completed mid-2019.

Another approved project for Amberley is the 17th Construction Squadron relocation infrastructure project to support the squadron's shift to Queensland. It will provide new working accommodation, vehicle shelters, quartermaster stores and workshops, and a new training area for the RAAF Fire Service. The project is expected to begin late 2015 and be completed in late 2016 at a cost of $71.8 million.

Other Queensland projects being progressed - subject to government/parliamentary approvals - include:

  • Growler airborne electronic attack capability facilities project to provide fit for purpose facilities to support and sustain employment of the new EA-18G Growler capability, which will involve upgrades for RAAF Base Amberley and the Oakey Army Aviation Centre. Construction is expected to begin in the first half of 2016, with estimated completion by 2023 at a cost of $348 million.

  • LAND 121 unit sustainment facilities project to support the incoming B-vehicle fleet at Defence sites across Australia, which will see the main works delivered in Townsville and Brisbane regions. The project will include maintenance workshops and associated repair part stores, weighbridges, loading and inspection ramps, wash points, vehicle shelters and associated hardstandings. Construction is scheduled to start early 2016 and be completed by late 2019 at a cost of $276 million.

  • AIR 9000 phase 5C replacement Chinook facilities project to provide facilities and supporting infrastructure to support the new F Model Chinook capability and integration systems at RAAF Base Townsville. Proposed upgrades relate to storage, working accommodation, training and engineering services works. Major works are expected to be completed by mid-2017 at a cost of $54.8 million.

  • Brisbane air traffic services centre extension works to replace existing air traffic control systems with the new OneSKY aviation communication and management system, which will provide a common platform in both civilian and military controlled airspace. The project involves construction of specialised equipment rooms to house computer and communications infrastructure in a Defence protected status building. OneSKY is the result of a partnering by the Department of Defence with Airservices Australia. The project is expected to be completed by late 2016 at a cost of $35.4 million.

  • Brisbane and Cairns control tower life extensions to introduce new technology into air traffic control towers in readiness for the OneSKY civil military system. Airservices is proposing to refurbish existing facilities and upgrade supporting infrastructure to extend airport design life. Brisbane works are planned to start late 2016 and be completed mid-2017 at a cost of $9.98 million, while the Cairns works will run through 2016 at a cost of $13.95 million - a total of $23.9 million.

  • AIR5431 air traffic management and control system facilities and Australian Defence Force air traffic control complex infrastructure project to support OneSKY by constructing new or upgraded existing air traffic control towers, airfield systems complex buildings and sensor equipment to buildings at 13 Defence bases and five off-base Defence sites across Australia. Construction is expected to commence early 2016 at RAAF Base Amberley - and progressively at other sites from late 2016 - with all works completed by end of 2021 at a cost of $409.9 million.

  • New facilities and supporting infrastructure construction at Amberley to host a relocated No.35 Squadron and its eventual fleet of 10 C-27J battlefield airlifters. The Queensland site offers the most flexible and efficient available basing option and promises improved responsiveness through co-location with the C-17s. Full operation capability of the C-27J is planned for December 2017.

The Department of Defence will be hosting a community and industry consultation session to discuss the expansion of RAAF Base Amberley and, specifically, the Battlefield Airlifter and Growler projects. The event is scheduled to be held on 7 October in the Lockyer Room, Ipswich Civic Centre, Cnr Limestone and Nicholas Streets, Ipswich. There is no need to register to attend any time between 6pm and 7pm.

Representatives from the Department of Defence and the managing contractors (Laing O'Rourke and Lend Lease) will be on hand to provide one-one-one information and to answer questions on these projects, which are both subject to parliamentary approval. Public hearings for the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works are scheduled for 3 and 4 November 2015, respectively, at the Metro International Hotel, Ipswich.

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