Calls for calm over US bomber postings

The defence minister has called for calm over a project in the Top End that will house up to six US nuclear-capable bombers after concerns it would paint a target on northern Australia.

Richard Marles said the joint investment would help boost Australia's infrastructure as well.

"Everyone needs to take a deep breath here," Mr Marles told reporters in Townsville when asked if the bombers could be seen as provocative.

"What we're talking about is US investment in the infrastructure at Tindal (air base) that will help make that infrastructure more capable for Australia as well."

Mr Marles noted the bombers have been coming to Australia since the 1980s and training since 2005.

"We are living in an increasingly complex and precarious world," he added.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused the US of heightening tensions in the Pacific, warning Washington would spark an arms race in the region.

But Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said territorians knew the importance of having a defence presence in the Top End better than anyone after being bombed in World War II.

"We have, Australia as a nation, strategic allies, and we will continue to work with them," she said.

"But I'm not concerned," she added.

Opposition defence spokesman Andrew Hastie has called for the government to boost spending and build strike capabilities to deter adversaries in the Indo-Pacific.

He said the nation needed strike bombers, precision guided missiles and both land-based and undersea unmanned vehicles.

The federal government is currently reviewing how Australia's defence assets are placed to tackle threats in the coming decades.

The department and minister will use the final report to determine the priorities for defence spending.

The preliminary findings on problems within Australia's defence capabilities will hit the minister's desk this week but the findings are being held close to his chest.

The full report will be released early next year but the interim update is not being made public.

The review, conducted by former defence minister Stephen Smith and former defence force chief Angus Houston, has received 150 submissions.

Mr Marles is expected to use a speech in a fortnight to outline key insights from the interim report.

Australia's first nuclear submarine isn't slated to arrive until late next decade at the earliest.

But there has been chatter of Washington providing an off-the-shelf vessel by mid-2030 with fears of China's growing aggression.