Aerial Footage Reveals RAF Mildenhall Intruder Came Dangerously Close To US Military Aircraft

news
A CV-22 Osprey, assigned to the 352d Special Operations Wing taxis past Airmen from the 352d Special Operations Maintenance Squadron prior to takeoff Jan. 17, 2017 on RAF Mildenhall, England.
Air Force photo

The security lockdown at RAF Mildenhall went as well as could be expected. Just minutes after his reported “attempt to ram” a security checkpoint at the U.S. Air Force base outside Suffolk, England, on Dec. 18, a 44-year-old British man was swiftly detained by American military personnel and British law enforcement. Nobody was injured during the “security incident”; the intruder sustained only a few “cuts and bruises,” despite the fact that American service members fired off rounds during the incident; according to the Suffolk police, the breach “is not being treated as terrorism,” and the suspect was detained under the UK’s mental health laws.


But new footage shows that the intruder’s vehicle managed to travel deeper into the base than previously suggested. The footage, shot from a BBC News helicopter, shows the intruder’s black car stationary near a CV-22 Osprey on Mildenhall’s flight line.

“We aren’t commenting officially,” a Suffolk police spokesman told Stars and Stripes on Dec. 20, ”[but] you can see for yourself where the car ended up from the video.”

While U.S. Air Forces-Europe spokesmen Capt. Lauren Ott told Stars and Stripes that damage to the Osprey was “negligible,” a more significant collision with a fuel-laden Osprey could have proven disastrous. While it’s unclear whether the Osprey was fully gassed up, the CV-22 in the video can carry up to 2,025 gallons of fuel — an explosive target for any would-be attacker.

Even if the wayward Brit’s joyride didn’t set off a Michael Bay-style explosion with the Osprey, there were plenty of other explodey targets in the neighborhood. Mildenhall is home to the 352nd Special Operations Wing, with six squadrons of Ospreys and MC-130J Commando II aircraft, and the 100th Air Refueling Wing, whose KC-135 Stratotankers carry out refueling exercises throughout the DoD’s European and African area of responsibility.

The Air Force facility at Mildenhall was originally slated for closure by 2023, along with some 14 other U.S. European Command bases across the region. But in April 2017, EUCOM stated that it was reconsidering the move in light of the “current European security environment”; given the deployment of U.S. troops and military assets to eastern Europe to counter an increasingly bellicose Russia, it seems likely that Mildenhall, the largest of the 15 bases set to close in 2015, will remain open.

Related: Shots Fired After Intruder Attempted To ‘Ram’ U.S. Air Force Base Checkpoint In England »

With the military’s reorientation towards Europe, the near-miss at Mildenhall may give U.S. military officials pause. Suffolk police emphasized that the incident did not appear to be a pre-planned attack and that “there is no wider threat to the public or occupants,” but the New York Times notes that would-be Islamic extremist Junead Ahmed Khan was convicted in 2015 of plotting to attack U.S. military bases (and their roughly 18,000 personnel) across the United Kingdom.  

How the latest run-in will impact force protection at Mildenhall remains unclear. But according USAFE spokesman Ott emphasized in a Dec. 20 statement that the Air Force isn’t taking the incident lightly.

“We do not discuss specific security measures at military installations,” Ott told Stars and Stripes. “However, we can confirm that our security measures remain multilayered and under constant review in coordination with both USAF and host nation to protect our personnel, their families and the surrounding community.”

WATCH NEXT:

Soldiers from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division in their Bradley Fighting Vehicle during Marne Focus at Fort Stewart, Ga. during the week of Oct. 14, 2019 (U.S. Army photo)

Three soldiers were killed and another three injured when their Bradley Fighting Vehicle rolled over during a training exercise at Fort Stewart in Georgia on Sunday morning, Army officials announced.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper addresses reporters during a media briefing at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., October 11, 2019. (Reuters/Erin Scott)

KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Afghanistan on Sunday in a bid to bring talks with the Taliban back on track after President Donald Trump abruptly broke off negotiations last month seeking to end the United States' longest war.

Esper's trip to Kabul comes amid questions about the United States' commitments to allies after a sudden withdrawal of U.S. troops from northeastern Syria and Trump's long-time desire to get out of foreign engagements.

Read More Show Less
Ummmmmm what? (Twitter)

Mark Esper is the third person after James Mattis and Patrick Shanahan to helm the Pentagon since Donald Trump became president, and he's apparently not making much of an impression on the commander-and-chief.

On Sunday, Trump sent a very real tweet on "Secretary Esperanto," which is either a reference to a constructed international language developed more than 130 years ago and only spoken on the PA system in Gattaca or an egregious instance of autocorrect.

Read More Show Less

The Army says it's settled on three defense contractors to battle it out to become the service's M4 carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon replacements, but at least one other company is hoping that a bit of consumer approval could help upset the competition.

Read More Show Less

The U.S. reportedly offered a long-term plan to help North Korea develop a tourist area in return for denuclearization during recent working-level talks in Stockholm that ended with the North side walking out, according to a new report.

American negotiators had drafted a plan to help build up the Kalma tourist area, the South's Hankook Ilbo newspaper reported Saturday, citing an unidentified top South Korean diplomat. The report didn't say how the North Koreans responded to the offer, but chief nuclear negotiator Kim Myong Gil portrayed the U.S. as inflexible after the talks earlier this month, blasting the Americans for not giving up "their old viewpoint and attitude."

Read More Show Less