§ Sir Eldon Griffiths
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence why the Royal Air Force needs a new advance communications network; how many towers are to be built as part of the Boxer system, and where; how much these new arrangements will cost; what discussions he had with British Telecom and Mercury with a view to their providing such a network for leasing by the Royal Air Force; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Alan Clark
The Royal Air Force's existing communications system within the United Kingdom, 607W which relies almost entirely on commercially-rented facilities, lacks sufficient capacity for high-speed digital data transfer. The Boxer network which will replace it, will include a total of 212 microwave link towers, using existing towers wherever possible. For security reasons locations cannot be disclosed. The estimated cost of the project is £230 million. The option of continuing to rely on commercially-rented facilities has been considered but rejected on cost grounds.