Air Force Launches Global Review of Base Security After Intruder Boards C-40 Aircraft

Acting Air Force Secretary John Roth and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown launched a comprehensive review into base safety and security protocols across the service after a man was able to breach security measures at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, and board a C-40 Clipper transport aircraft Thursday.

The Department of the Air Force Inspector General is investigating the breach, the service said in an announcement Friday.

The Air Force “adjusted some of their security protocols at Andrews this morning,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters during a briefing Friday. “I won’t go into the details of that … [but] this review and investigation will also include their installations worldwide.

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“Everybody in the department and certainly everybody in the Air Force understands what a serious matter this is,” he added.

Earlier Friday, 316th Wing officials at Andrews confirmed that a man with two outstanding arrest warrants made it onto a C-40 aircraft before being caught trespassing Thursday.

Security Forces airmen detained and interviewed the man, who was not identified by the service. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations, or AFOSI, assisted with the interview, a base spokesperson said in a release.

“The security of our installation is paramount,” Col. Roy Oberhaus, vice commander of the 316th Wing, said in the release. “This was a serious breach of security, and Joint Base Andrews is investigating the incident to determine how this happened so it doesn’t happen again.”

Officials acknowledged the breach Thursday but did not provide details at the time. An AFOSI spokesperson could not be reached for further comment.

The man was booked by AFOSI and given a federal summons for trespassing, the release states. He was then turned over to local law enforcement on the other outstanding warrants.

“The man was unarmed and did not harm any personnel, and there is no indication that the individual has any links to extremist groups,” officials said.

The base suspended its Trusted Traveler Program after the incident, officials said in a Facebook post Thursday. The suspension was first reported by Air Force Magazine. Normally, individuals with a valid Common Access Card card who are pre-cleared with escort authority can bring up to 10 individuals with them in a vehicle without the base having to vet the accompanying visitors’ backgrounds. Base officials did not indicate when they might reinstate the program.

Andrews is best known for its special airlift mission to transport VIPs such as the president and vice president. It’s home to the VC-25 aircraft, popularly known as “Air Force One.”

While the call sign can apply to any aircraft when the commander in chief is onboard, the special airlift mission, overseen by the 89th Airlift Wing, includes the VC-25A, a modified Boeing 747; the C-32A, a modified Boeing 757; the C-37A, a Gulfstream V; the C-37B, a Gulfstream 550; and the C-40, an upgraded Boeing 737-700 business jet.

Cabinet officials, members of Congress and senior military leaders often use the C-40 for transport. The 89th received its first C-40B model in 2002, according to the service. Like the larger VC-25A, the C-40 also functions as “an office in the sky,” with distinguished visitor compartments for sleep and work accommodations, and a crew rest area. The B model can carry 26 to 32 passengers and accommodate a 10-person crew.

Breach attempts on U.S. military bases are not uncommon, but are rarely successful.

In 2018, there were attempts on several installations across the U.S., including Fort Meade, Maryland; Naval Base Kitsap, Washington; and Peterson Air Force, Colorado, according to a report from Task & Purpose.

Base security forces were forced to look at their protocols after an intruder drove his car all the way onto the flight line at RAF Mildenhall in the United Kingdom in 2017. The Air Force said a “disturbed” man attempted to drive up the ramp of a parked CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft during that incident, according to an Air Force Times report. Officials blamed some of the gaps in response on Mildenhall’s Installation Defense Plan, which wasn’t in line with current security protocols, according to the publication.

— Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at Oriana.Pawlyk@Monster.com. Follow her on Twitter @oriana0214.