The Air Force will likely start rotating fighters and tankers through RAAF Darwin or RAAF Tindal in northern Australia in 2015 as part of the US military’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, said Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Hawk Carlisle on Monday. These plans are “moving forward very well,” he told reporters in Washington, D.C., on July 29. The rotations may start at Darwin “because of the ramp capability” there, but will likely move to Tindal “later on,” said Carlisle. He declined to specify which units the Air Force would tap for the initial rotations, but said, among them, might be F-16s from Misawa AB, Japan, or F-15s from Kadena AB, Japan. Eventually, the Air Force may also rotate bombers through Tindal, said Carlisle. “We have landed a bomber out of Andersen [AFB, Guam] at Darwin [and] we’ve brought tankers down there,” he said. “We also do bring fighters down fairly often to exercise with the Australians,” he said. The Marine Corps has also announced plans to increase its rotational presence in Australia.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.