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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The Australian government is spending $11 million to upgrade facilities at two Darwin military bases in preparation for an increase in the number of U.S. Marines deployed there.

The last Marines from a 250-strong force deployed to Australia’s Northern Territory on a six-month rotation returned to their home-base in Hawaii in late September.

Next year, they’ll be replaced Down Under by a much larger contingent of Marines.

The Corps plans to send a Marine battalion to Darwin in 2014 as part of a 1,150-strong force that will include an aviation support contingent at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Darwin, along with four heavy-lift helicopters, according to Australian officials.

On Friday Australian Defense Secretary Darren Chester announced the award of an $11 million contract to build new facilities for the Marines at Robertson Barracks and RAAF Darwin.

“The facilities will ensure that appropriate living and working accommodation is available for the U.S. Marine Corps,” Chester said in a statement.

Construction will start later this month and is scheduled to be completed by the end of February, the statement said.

robson.seth@stripes.com

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