* With Naval Air Station Lemoore set to become the backbone of the Navy’s future strike capability, the Navy awarded a contract Friday for the construction of infrastructure to support the base’s fleet of F-35Cs. The $20.2 million task order covers the construction of new buildings to house JSF simulators, as well as classrooms and briefing rooms. NAS Lemoore beat out NAS El Centro last fall to become the Pacific Fleet’s F-35 base, with Strike Fighter Squadron 101 (VFA 101), the F-35C replacement squadron, set to relocate to the base in early 2017.
* The Navy announced on Friday that the US Southern Command is hiring a Maryland-based firm, Airtec Inc. to perform intelligence, surveillance & reconnaissance flights for the US Southern Command, using a contractor-owned Bombardier ISR aircraft fitted out with government equipment. The work will principally take place in Colombia, where there has previously been a substantial use of private firms for intelligence-gathering activities, including the suspected targeting of narcotraffickers. The $80.7 million contract modification is scheduled to run to September 2018. The company previously supplied an ISR aircraft to Southern Command to test the FALCON-I foliage-penetrating radar, including the operation of a Forward Operating Location (FOL) in Bogotá, as well as pilots, analysts and operators.
* Brazil is reportedly looking to restructure its financing with Gripen-manufacturer Saab, a result of austerity-driven budget constraints and cuts to the amount of borrowed cash the country is taking from Sweden’s Export Credit Corporation to fund the fighter. Brazilian prosecutors announced their intention in April to investigate the $5.4 billion deal signed with Saab last year, after the Gripen beat out competitors Boeing and Dassault.
* Following the awarding of a development contract to Huntington Ingall in April, the Navy awarded a $13 million contract modification to General Dynamics Friday for preliminary design work on the LX(R) Amphibious Ship Replacement Program.
* Also on Friday, the Navy handed a $72.1 million IDIQ contract for P-8A Poseidon ultra high-frequency antenna interface units and very/ultra high-frequency units and their associated communication tray assemblies for Lots 6, 7 and 8 in support of the Navy and Australia. This follows a contract in May for aircraft direction finders, radio tuner panels and high frequency radio shipsets for the P-8, with this latest contract set to run to 2018.
* The Royal Navy’s future carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, saw its propulsion system powered up for the first time at the back-end of last week. Powered by two Rolls-Royce Marine 36MW MT30 gas turbine alternators and four diesel engines, the total power reaches approximately 110 megawatts. The carrier will be equipped with F-35B fighters, with a joint US-UK team testing the jet on a replica of the Elizabeth-class carrier’s ski-jump last week.
* The Czech Republic is reportedly planning to spend significantly on defense procurement this year, including armored personnel carriers and personal weapons. The country recently began talks with Israel’s Elta systems regarding a potential $240 million 3D radar system to complement two existing systems and bolster the country’s borders.
* Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) cleared hot weather trials on Friday, following cold weather trials earlier this year. Production is scheduled for the end of this year, on the condition that the helicopter achieves Initial Operating Clearance. The Indian Army and Air Force have placed significant orders for the chopper, 114 and 65 respectively, with its maiden flight taking place in March 2010.
* The Indian Air Force is planning to stand-down three squadrons of MiG-21 and MiG-27s, as the operational gap becomes plugged by a new squadron of more advanced SU-30s. In total, 54 of the Soviet-era aircraft will be phased out, with parts cannibalized to keep other aircraft flying. Sweden’s Saab has previously offered its Gripen single-engine fighter as a replacement for the IAF’s MiG-21s; however this has not been met with much enthusiasm by the Indian Defense Ministry.
* Australia has selected a team of firms as preferred bidder to provide the Australian Defence Force with an improved battlefield communications network under the Defence Ministry’s 2072 Phase 2B program. The $702 million program sees Boeing and Harris’ Australian subsidiaries team with local firm G H Varley as preferred bidder, with deployable computer networks being supplied by Thales. The program has an IOC planned for 2017, with FOC scheduled for three years afterwards.
* The HAL Light Combat Helicopter…