The Australian Government has approved funding for a construction project that will support the introduction and maintenance of the Australian Defence Force's (ADF) new CH-47F Chinook helicopters.
Under the project, the Australian Department of Defence will spend $54.8m on the infrastructure and building works, which are focused on supporting seven Chinook multirole helicopters.
The new aircraft are expected to replace the ADF's existing CH-47D Chinook fleet at the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Townsville in Queensland, Australia.
Australian Defence Minister parliamentary secretary Darren Chester said: "The project will contribute to the modernisation of the Australian Defence Force's primary medium-lift helicopter capability.
"Over the next three years, this investment will create jobs and provide strong economic benefits to the region, including potential involvement of the local construction industry and sub-contractors as part of the development."
Construction work is expected to begin later this year, with a completion date of mid-2017.
The Australian Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) signed a $513.5m contract with the US Army security assistance command in March 2010 for the delivery of the Chinooks, as well as two simulators and associated spares.
Boeing will supply the helicopters, which incorporate some minor Australian-specific mission equipment enhancements, such as crash-worthy crew and passenger seating, as well as mini guns and underfloor ballistic protection.
The ADF plans to induct the first two helicopters in service this year, and all seven by 2017.
In addition, the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Public Works approved the $131.1m facilities upgrade of the defence terrestrial communications network.
Chester added: "This is a key strategic reform initiative that will deliver robust and secure communications technology, create greater efficiencies and lower costs."
Covering IT facilities and communications infrastructure upgrade and other structural enhancements, the work will be carried out at 282 defence sites, supporting approximately 100,000 users in Australia and abroad.
Construction is expected to start in mid-2014 and will be completed by mid-2016, subject to parliamentary approval.
Image: An Australian Army CH-47D Chinook helicopter in flight over Canberra Airport. Photo: courtesy of Jeff Gilbert.