The Federal Government says it will invest an extra $18 billion over the next decade to upgrade and strengthen defence bases across northern Australia. 

Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy revealed the investment details at a defence industry convention in Darwin, saying the funds are part of a broader $50 billion defence spending initiative announced last month. 

The upcoming federal budget will earmark $750 million as an initial allocation towards this ambitious project.

The focal point of this upgrade is the 'hardening' of defence facilities to ensure they are robust and well-equipped to handle potential threats. 

This includes upgrades to the Larrakeyah Defence Precinct in Darwin, which will be revamped to accommodate berthing for submarines. However, Conroy clarified that the future nuclear submarine fleet would not be based in the Top End.

Additional enhancements will be made to RAAF Base Tindal, facilitating improved air refuelling operations through the introduction of KC-30A multi-role tanker transport aircraft. 

The base will also support new amphibious landing craft and surveillance aircraft operations.

The investment is set to have significant economic implications for the region. 

Conroy said that the development would not only bolster local businesses by prioritising contracts with local companies but would also create thousands of jobs.

This development follows recommendations from the Defence Strategic Review, which advocated a shift towards enhancing long-range and missile capabilities. 

The review recognised that Australia’s geographical isolation, once considered an advantage, no longer serves as a strong defence mechanism alone.

Conroy said the government's vision for a hardened defence posture that is not merely defensive but also capable of projecting power within the region to counter potential threats. “The NT is critical to the defence of the nation, not just in defending Australia but projecting power out into our region against any potential adversary,” said Conroy.

The National Defence Strategy and Integrated Investment Program are available on the National Defence Strategy website.