§ Mr. Soames
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the reliability of secure satellite communications links available to the UK commanders during Operation Telic; what commercial facilities were utilised; and at what cost. 
§ Mr. Ingram
Secure satellite communications links provided to UK commanders during Operation Telic included both military links through the SKYNET system, and commercial links supporting the Operational Strategic CIS Architecture (OSCA). The overall reliability of secure satellite communications links was high. Some difficulties in maintaining strategic communications links did occur but these did not significantly affect the operational outcome.
£1.5 million was spent on acquiring the commercial satellite communications hardware for OSCA. A further £9.8 million has been incurred on communications services provided by Cable & Wireless and INMARSAT up to December 2003. The costs attributable to OSCA are included in the overall procurement and running costs for the system totalling £33 million up to December 2003.