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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..

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  • 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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Australia

Sydney seaplane crash: Exhaust fumes affected pilot, report confirms

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The pilot of a seaplane that crashed into an Australian river, killing all on board, had been left confused and disorientated by leaking exhaust fumes, investigators have confirmed.

The Canadian pilot and five members of a British family died in the crash north of Sydney in December 2017.

All were found to have higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, a final report has found.

It recommended the mandatory fitting of gas detectors in all such planes.

British businessman Richard Cousins, 58, died alongside his 48-year-old fiancée, magazine editor Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather and his sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, and pilot Gareth Morgan, 44. Mr Cousins was the chief executive of catering giant Compass.

The family had been on a sightseeing flight in the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver plane when it nose-dived into the Hawkesbury River at Jerusalem Bay, about 50km (30 miles) from the city centre.

The final report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) confirmed the findings of an interim report published in 2020.

It said pre-existing cracks in the exhaust collector ring were believed to have released exhaust gas into the engine bay. Holes left by missing bolts in a firewall then allowed the fumes to enter the cabin.

“As a result, the pilot would have almost certainly experienced effects such as confusion, visual disturbance and disorientation,” the report said.

“Consequently, it was likely that this significantly degraded the pilot’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.”

The ATSB recommended the Civil Aviation Safety Authority consider mandating the fitting of carbon monoxide detectors in piston-engine aircraft that carry passengers.

It previously issued safety advisory notices to owners and operators of such aircraft that they install detectors “with an active warning” to pilots”. Operators and maintainers of planes were also advised to carry out detailed inspections of exhaust systems and firewalls.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55862128

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Australia

Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021, says top official

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Australia is unlikely to fully open its borders in 2021 even if most of its population gets vaccinated this year as planned, says a senior health official.

The comments dampen hopes raised by airlines that travel to and from the country could resume as early as July.

Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy made the prediction after being asked about the coronavirus’ escalation in other nations.

Dr Murphy spearheaded Australia’s early action to close its borders last March.

“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday.

“Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he said, adding that he believed quarantine requirements for travellers would continue “for some time”.

Citizens, permanent residents and those with exemptions are allowed to enter Australia if they complete a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.

Qantas – Australia’s national carrier – reopened bookings earlier this month, after saying it expected international travel to “begin to restart from July 2021.”

However, it added this depended on the Australian government’s deciding to reopen borders.

Australia’s tight restrictions

The country opened a travel bubble with neighbouring New Zealand late last year, but currently it only operates one-way with inbound flights to Australia.

Australia has also discussed the option of travel bubbles with other low-risk places such as Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.

A vaccination scheme is due to begin in Australia in late February. Local authorities have resisted calls to speed up the process, giving more time for regulatory approvals.

Australia has so far reported 909 deaths and about 22,000 cases, far fewer than many nations. It reported zero locally transmitted infections on Monday.

Experts have attributed much of Australia’s success to its swift border lockdown – which affected travellers from China as early as February – and a hotel quarantine system for people entering the country.

Local outbreaks have been caused by hotel quarantine breaches, including a second wave in Melbourne. The city’s residents endured a stringent four-month lockdown last year to successfully suppress the virus.

Other outbreaks – including one in Sydney which has infected about 200 people – prompted internal border closures between states, and other restrictions around Christmas time.

The state of Victoria said on Monday it would again allow entry to Sydney residents outside of designated “hotspots”, following a decline in cases.

While the measures have been praised, many have also criticised them for separating families across state borders and damaging businesses.

Dr Murphy said overall Australia’s virus response had been “pretty good” but he believed the nation could have introduced face masks earlier and improved its protections in aged care homes.

In recent days, Australia has granted entry to about 1,200 tennis players, staff and officials for the Australian Open. The contingent – which has recorded at least nine infections – is under quarantine.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55699581

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Australia

Covid: Brisbane to enter three-day lockdown over single infection

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The Australian city of Brisbane has begun a snap three-day lockdown after a cleaner in its hotel quarantine system became infected with coronavirus.

Health officials said the cleaner had the highly transmissible UK variant and they were afraid it could spread.

Brisbane has seen very few cases of the virus beyond quarantined travellers since Australia’s first wave last year.

It is the first known instance of this variant entering the Australian community outside of hotel quarantine.

The lockdown is for five populous council areas in Queensland’s state capital.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the measure on Friday morning local time, about 16 hours after the woman tested positive.

Ms Palaszczuk said the lockdown aimed to halt the virus as rapidly as possible, adding: “Doing three days now could avoid doing 30 days in the future.”

“I think everybody in Queensland… knows what we are seeing in the UK and other places around the world is high rates of infection from this particular strain,” she said.

“And we do not want to see that happening here in our great state.”

Australia has reported 28,500 coronavirus infections and 909 deaths since the pandemic began. By contrast, the US, which is the hardest-hit country, has recorded more than 21 million infections while nearly 362,000 people have died of the disease.The lockdown will begin at 18:00 on Friday (08:00 GMT) in the Brisbane city, Logan and the Ipswich, Moreton and Redlands local government areas.

Residents will only be allowed to leave home for certain reasons, such as buying essential items and seeking medical care.

For the first time, residents in those areas will also be required to wear masks outside of their homes.

Australia has faced sporadic outbreaks over the past year, with the most severe one in Melbourne triggering a lockdown for almost four months.

A pre-Christmas outbreak in Sydney caused fresh alarm, but aggressive testing and contact-tracing has kept infection numbers low. The city recorded four local cases on Friday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has pledged to start mass vaccinations in February instead of March as was planned.

Lockdown interrupts ‘near normal’ life in Brisbane

Simon Atkinson, BBC News in Brisbane

At 8:00 today I popped to the local supermarket for some bread, milk – and because it’s summer here – a mango. I was pretty much the only customer.

When I went past the same shop a couple of hours later it was a different story – 50 people standing in the drizzle – queuing to get inside as others emerged with bulging shopping bags. “Heaps busier than Christmas,” a cheery trolley attendant told me. “It’s off the scale”.

Despite the “don’t panic” messages from authorities, pictures on social media show it’s a pattern being repeated across the city.

While shutdowns are common around the world, the tough and sudden stay-at-home order for Brisbane has caught people on the hop here after months of near normality.

But while such a rapid, hard lockdown off the back of just a single case of Covid-19 will seem crazy in some parts of the world, I’ve not come across too many people complaining.

And I don’t think that’s just because Aussies love to follow a rule. This is the first time the UK variant of the virus has been detected in the community in Australia.

And nobody here wants Brisbane to go through what Melbourne suffered last year. Even if it means going without mangoes.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55582836

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