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RAF Mildenhall: US base on lockdown after ‘car rams gates’

Suffolk Police rushed to RAF Mildenhall to respond to 'significant security alert'
Car tri..

  • Suffolk Police rushed to RAF Mildenhall to respond to 'significant security alert'
  • Car tried to force its way onto the US Air Force base and the driver was arrested
  • Currently unclear how far into the base the 44-year-old man was able to reach
  • Videos show a cordon surrounding a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey inside the base
  • Residents reported hearing gunshots and children at a play area 'suddenly left'

By Mark Duell and Alexander Robertson For Mailonline and Larisa Brown and Andrew Levy For The Daily Mail

Published: 09:30 EST, 18 December 2017 | Updated: 18:05 EST, 18 December 2017

An intruder was able to drive his car onto a US Air Force base before he was stopped inches from a military combat aircraft.

Aerial footage from the RAF Mildenhall showed a cordon surrounding a black car and a £43million V-22 Osprey stationed near a runway in the centre of the site.

The suspect pretended to be a senior military official at the main checkpoint at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk.

When police refused to let him in just after 1pm, he forced the car through the entrance and the base was placed into lockdown.

The intruder got close to a V22 Osprey, a ‘heli-plane’ nicknamed the Transformer, before he was apprehended. A 44-year-old British man was arrested on suspicion of criminal trespass.

He suffered cuts and bruises but no one else was injured. His motive remained unclear, but police said the incident was not being treated as terrorism.

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Videos show a cordon surrounding a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey (pictured) a few hours after the incident, which Suffolk Police do not believe to be terror-related

Videos show a cordon surrounding a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey (pictured) a few hours after the incident, which Suffolk Police do not believe to be terror-related

It is currently unclear how far into the base he was able to reach, however aerial footage seems to suggest he may have reached a runway at the centre of the siteIt is currently unclear how far into the base he was able to reach, however aerial footage seems to suggest he may have reached a runway at the centre of the site

It is currently unclear how far into the base he was able to reach, however aerial footage seems to suggest he may have reached a runway at the centre of the site

Members of the US armed forces stand at the entrance to RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk todayMembers of the US armed forces stand at the entrance to RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk today

Members of the US armed forces stand at the entrance to RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk today

It is thought the man who allegedly rammed his car into a gate at a US Air Force base in Britain may have been trying to reach a military planeIt is thought the man who allegedly rammed his car into a gate at a US Air Force base in Britain may have been trying to reach a military plane

It is thought the man who allegedly rammed his car into a gate at a US Air Force base in Britain may have been trying to reach a military plane

It is understood the man claimed to be someone ‘important within the military establishment’ when he was confronted at the main gates.

US military personnel opened fire when he ignored guards, including both American and UK Ministry of Defence police, and drove onto the base.

Superintendent Kim Warner, of Suffolk Police, said a vehicle failed to follow security directions at the entrance and drove on to the base.

There was a 'short pursuit' and the vehicle was stopped by US security services, he said.

The man, who suffered cuts and bruises, has been taken into custody and police are not looking for anyone else on the site in relation to the incident.

There were initial reports of a car being rammed into a checkpoint, but Mr Warner said he was 'unaware of any damage to the base itself'.

He said the vehicle was brought to a halt close to a US plane, an Osprey, and it was not thought there was 'any significant damage' to the vehicle or the aircraft.

There was 'no obvious motive at this stage', he added.

It has been claimed that the suspect is a British citizen who pretended to be someone he was not – possibly a senior military figure – to get through a checkpoint.

Residents also reported hearing gunshots and the American children at a soft play area in the village were said to have 'suddenly left' after the incident.

Tonight a police car was blocking the entrance to the base and there was a strong police and military presence in the area, with 4×4 vehicles patrolling outside.

A Suffolk Police spokesman said: 'Suffolk Police were contacted at approximately 1.40pm today to reports of a disturbance at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk.

'The base was put into lockdown and units responded immediately. Shots were fired by American service personnel and a man has been detained with cuts and bruises and taken into custody.

'No other people have been injured as a result of the incident. Suffolk Police remain on site.'

It has been claimed that the suspect is a British citizen who pretended to be someone he was not - possibly a senior military figure - to get through a checkpointIt has been claimed that the suspect is a British citizen who pretended to be someone he was not - possibly a senior military figure - to get through a checkpoint

It has been claimed that the suspect is a British citizen who pretended to be someone he was not – possibly a senior military figure – to get through a checkpoint

A police car is pictured at the scene following the incident at RAF Mildenhall this afternoonA police car is pictured at the scene following the incident at RAF Mildenhall this afternoon

A police car is pictured at the scene following the incident at RAF Mildenhall this afternoon

Police rushed to the RAF Mildenhall base (pictured today) in Suffolk to respond to the  alertPolice rushed to the RAF Mildenhall base (pictured today) in Suffolk to respond to the  alert

Police rushed to the RAF Mildenhall base (pictured today) in Suffolk to respond to the alert

The man was detained with cuts and bruises and taken into custody after the incident todayThe man was detained with cuts and bruises and taken into custody after the incident today

The man was detained with cuts and bruises and taken into custody after the incident today

Aerial footage from the scene appeared to show flashing police car lights and a cordon around a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey on a section of the base in SuffolkAerial footage from the scene appeared to show flashing police car lights and a cordon around a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey on a section of the base in Suffolk

Aerial footage from the scene appeared to show flashing police car lights and a cordon around a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey on a section of the base in Suffolk

The force also tweeted: 'Members of the public are asked to avoid the area around RAF Mildenhall for the time being.'

And it later said: 'As there is considered no ongoing threat to the community relating to the incident at RAF Mildenhall, schools can continue to operate as they normally would at the end of a day.'

But Tony Osborne, London bureau chief at Aviation Week, tweeted: 'If the police investigation at Mildenhall is related to an incident at the gate, why is there a cordon around V-22 Osprey on the apron? Would suggest this person got onto the airfield.'

No other police forces are thought to be involved in the incident at this stage. Suffolk Police were unable to confirm if the matter was being treated as terrorist-related.

But the force said that while the incident was ongoing, there was no wider threat to the public, or base occupants.

In November last year the then Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said RAF Mildenhall was one of 56 Ministry of Defence sites earmarked for closure.

The base, which is due to shut in 2022, is home to the US Air Force's 100th Air Refuelling Wing and 352nd Special Operations Wing.

Police confirmed that US personnel fired shots during the incident at around 1.40pm todayPolice confirmed that US personnel fired shots during the incident at around 1.40pm today

Police confirmed that US personnel fired shots during the incident at around 1.40pm today

The base was put on lockdown amid reports of a car being rammed into a checkpointThe base was put on lockdown amid reports of a car being rammed into a checkpoint

The base was put on lockdown amid reports of a car being rammed into a checkpoint

Suffolk Police said that while the incident was ongoing, there was no wider threat to the publicSuffolk Police said that while the incident was ongoing, there was no wider threat to the public

Suffolk Police said that while the incident was ongoing, there was no wider threat to the public

A member of staff at Jumppin Jacks Funhouse in Mildenhall said: 'All the American children playing here suddenly left, but we didn't hear anything or know why.'

A statement on the base's Facebook page said: 'RAF Mildenhall locked down at 1pm today following reports of a disturbance on base.

'The base was locked down and emergency personnel are responding to the situation. Additional details will be provided as they become available.'

A Pentagon spokesman in Washington said: 'The security incident has been contained and a suspect has been apprehended.'

A defence source said a car tried to force its way into RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk (file picture)A defence source said a car tried to force its way into RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk (file picture)

A defence source said a car tried to force its way into RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk (file picture)

Police rushed to RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk to respond to the 'significant security alert'Police rushed to RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk to respond to the 'significant security alert'

Police rushed to RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk to respond to the 'significant security alert'

And a US Air Force spokesman said: 'The incident has been contained. There is a suspect that has been apprehended.'

BBC home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford tweeted: 'The early indications are that someone tried to drive onto the base, and was stopped at the gate, and has been arrested. People nearby heard gunshots.'

Shortly before 3pm, two businesses on the base confirmed they were no longer on lockdown after the security alert.

The 1,162-acre base, which houses about 3,100 US military and an additional 3,000 family members, is used by the US to refuel US and Nato aircraft in Europe.

The 1,162-acre base, which houses about 3,100 US military and an additional 3,000 family members, is used by the US to refuel US and Nato aircraft in EuropeThe 1,162-acre base, which houses about 3,100 US military and an additional 3,000 family members, is used by the US to refuel US and Nato aircraft in Europe

The 1,162-acre base, which houses about 3,100 US military and an additional 3,000 family members, is used by the US to refuel US and Nato aircraft in Europe

RAF Mildenhall is set for closure after the US said it was going to move is operations from there to Germany. The site has previously been a potential terror attack target.

In May 2016, delivery driver Junead Khan, from Luton, who planned to attack US servicemen outside RAF Mildenhall, was jailed for life.

Islamic extremist Khan wanted to attack US airmen in East Anglia with a knife like that used by Jihadi John after plotting with an ISIS fighter in Syria.

He delivered medical supplies to Boots, Superdrug, Morrisons Supermarket and Co-Op along with hospitals and surgeries on behalf of Alliance Healthcare.

RAF Mildenhall (pictured) in Suffolk and neighbouring RAF Lakenheath were re-opened after the second World War to host B-29 Superfortresses and have hosted US airmen ever sinceRAF Mildenhall (pictured) in Suffolk and neighbouring RAF Lakenheath were re-opened after the second World War to host B-29 Superfortresses and have hosted US airmen ever since

RAF Mildenhall (pictured) in Suffolk and neighbouring RAF Lakenheath were re-opened after the second World War to host B-29 Superfortresses and have hosted US airmen ever since

A V-22 Osprey, similar to the one pictured in this file image, was seen in aerial footage surrounded by what appeared to be a cordon and flashing lights on a police vehicleA V-22 Osprey, similar to the one pictured in this file image, was seen in aerial footage surrounded by what appeared to be a cordon and flashing lights on a police vehicle

A V-22 Osprey, similar to the one pictured in this file image, was seen in aerial footage surrounded by what appeared to be a cordon and flashing lights on a police vehicle

His routes took him to East Anglia and to two Lloyd's pharmacies in the village of Mildenhall, close to two US airbases.

RAF Mildenhall and neighbouring RAF Lakenheath were re-opened after the second World War to host B-29 Superfortresses and have hosted US airmen ever since.

Also last year, an abduction scare forced police to launch a major manhunt after an airman was attacked at knifepoint while out jogging near RAF Marham in Norfolk.

The two suspects were at first suspected to be jihadis plotting a terror attack. But another theory now is that it may have been a failed mugging.

RAF Mildenhall: UK base that gives US a military foothold in Europe

RAF Mildenhall has housed the US airforce for decades and is suspected of previously being a target for terrorists.

The Suffolk base has been used by the American military since 1950, giving it a military foothold in Europe.

Several units are still based there permanently, including the 100th Air Refuelling Wing and a branch of its special operations command.

The Suffolk base of RAF Mildenhall has been used by the American military since 1950The Suffolk base of RAF Mildenhall has been used by the American military since 1950

The Suffolk base of RAF Mildenhall has been used by the American military since 1950

It has been earmarked for closure in 2022 after the Pentagon decided to scale down its military presence on the continent.

Last year a British Islamic extremist was convicted for planning a terror attack on US military personnel, having apparently scouted out RAF Mildenhall as a target.

Delivery driver Junead Khan drove close to several bases operated by the United States Air Force during 2015, including the Suffolk airfield, his trial was told.

The Ministry of Defence plans to sell the site as part of a plan to generate £500 million from the release of military bases.

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Pan Asia was recently invited by the chief executive officer of the Phang Nga Provincial Administrative Organisation (PAO), a Phang Nga Provincial Government coordinating body, to represent PAM and the Reung Kiet Lithium Project.

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