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RAAF Base Darwin

Established in June 1940, RAAF Base Darwin was the first permanent Air Force presence in Australia's far north. RAAF Base Darwin was a military airfield until the end of the Second World War in 1945 when it became a joint user facility with Darwin International Airport.

Today, RAAF Base Darwin is one of Australia's busiest forward operating bases playing a vital strategic role in Australia's national security. The base is used to support Australian and visiting foreign deployments of aircraft as well as a staging base for Australian Defence Force exercises.

Front gates at RAAF Base Darwin

Front gates at RAAF Base Darwin

Darwin Airfield

Darwin International Airport is a joint user aerodrome. A portion of the airport is leased by the Commonwealth Government to Darwin International Airport Pty Ltd (DIA) for civil aircraft operations. The predominant use of the airfield is for civilian aircraft.

Located 6km slightly north-east of Darwin, runway 11/29 is approximately 3.4km long and is orientated northwest to southeast. Runway 18/36 is approximately 1.5km long and is orientated north to south. Both runways are managed by Air Force Air Traffic Controllers.

Runway configuration at Darwin Airport/RAAF Base Darwin

Runway configuration at Darwin Airport/RAAF Base Darwin

The base is also home to:

  • Number 13 (City of Darwin) Squadron
  • Joint Task Force 639 ACCE
  • Darwin Area Health Center
  • Number 2 Security Force Squadron Detachment Darwin
  • Number 2 Expeditionary Health Squadron Detachment Darwin
  • Number 114 Mobile Control and Reporting Unit (radar operations)
  • Number 452 Squadron Headquarters
  • Number 452 Squadron Darwin Flight (Air Traffic Control)
  • Defence Support Central West Northern Territory/Katherine.

RAAF Base Darwin plays a pivotal role in major international air combat exercises hosted by the Air Force on an annual basis. These exercises involve Australian and international forces and provide the highest level of Air Force collective training in Offensive and Defensive Counter Air Operations.

Exercise Pitch Black

For more than 20 years, Air Force has conducted Exercise Pitch Black from RAAF Bases Tindal and Darwin. Exercise Pitch Black is Air Forces largest and most complex air exercise and is held every two years. Participants have included the United States, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. The exercise is conducted in airspace over Bradshaw Field Training Area and the Delamere Air Training Area.

During Exercise Pitch Black every effort is made to reduce the impact of noise on the local Darwin community. The next Exercise Pitch Black will be held in 2020.

Exercise Diamond Storm and Talisman Sabre

Exercises Diamond Storm and Exercise Talisman Sabre are biennial Australian and United States training activities that usually take place one after the other between May and July of the same year. The exercises are designed to train our respective military forces in planning and conducting combined operations to improve our combat readiness and interoperability.

During Exercises Diamond Storm and Talisman Sabre, every effort is made to reduce the impact of noise on the local Darwin community.

US Marine Rotational Force - Darwin

In November 2011, Prime Minister Gillard and President Obama announced annual six month rotations of US Marines to Darwin and northern Australia.

In Darwin, the majority of Marines are based at Robertson Barracks with a smaller aviation support contingent based at RAAF Base Darwin.

Defence continues to work closely with the US Marine Corps and Darwin International Airport to minimise aircraft noise resulting from any aircraft which are part of US Marine rotations.

Both the Australian Defence Force and the US Marine Corps are committed to operating aircraft in an environmentally responsible manner when exercising and training in Australia.

The US Marine Corps abides by Air Force's Fly Neighbourly policy undertaking flying operations in a manner which is considerate of local communities whilst maintaining safe operation of aircraft and achieving required levels of capability.