The RAF has ordered a secure messaging system to provide an email facility to personnel in the UK, at overseas bases and even war zones.
Racal Telecom has been awarded a 10 year #16 million contract to create the X.400 based messaging system, dubbed RAFmail, that will carry informal messages rather than confidential military documents for around 55,000 users. It will also manage the network.
RAFmail will be rolled out to nine sites in the UK initially, and to a further 51 sites here during the next 12 months. The network will connect to overseas bases, such as in Germany, Cyprus and the Falklands, via a global wide area network to which the government has access.
Remote users can access the service from anywhere with a satellite or terrestrial phone connection using a laptop fitted with its Safedial PC card product that encrypts outgoing communications and decrypts incoming ones.
Security is high on the network, but only at a level sufficient for informal communications, according to Racal.
"RAFmail is informal. Yes it does have to be reasonably secure, but it doesn't at this stage have to include a massive encryption system," said Martin Wyse, senior account manager for Racal's defence unit.
The system doesn't use the Internet at any stage, but could do so if the RAF requested, said Wyse. "If they required our system to connect to the Internet then we have the capability to look at how that could occur," he said.
Neither Racal nor the RAF know how many informal messages are likely to pass through the system, said Wyse, so the RAF has settled on a site by site pricing system, rather than a message by message system.
Racal Telecom manages a number of government contracts, including a major contract covering voice services to government departments in central London, as well as to HM Customs & Excise, the Prison Service and HM Land Registry.
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