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Air Force launches global security review after intruder accessed Joint Base Andrews and entered plane

Air Force One parks on the flight line at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Jan. 20, 2021.

LOGAN CARLSON/U.S. AIR FORCE

By COREY DICKSTEIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 5, 2021

 

WASHINGTON — The Air Force has launched a global security review of its bases after a man illegally accessed Joint Base Andrews, Md., on Thursday and entered an airplane on the installation best known as the home of Air Force One, defense officials said.

An adult male was detained Thursday by Joint Base Andrews security forces after he entered a C-40 aircraft on the installation, according to statement Friday from the base. The man was cited for federal trespassing and turned over to local law enforcement on two outstanding warrants, according to the statement.

Joint Base Andrews officials declined to name the man and referred questions to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, which is examining the incident. A spokeswoman for OSI did not immediately respond Friday to messages seeking additional information.

Andrews officials said the man was not armed and had no apparent ties to dangerous or extremist groups. No one was injured during the incident, they said. It occurred one day before President Joe Biden was scheduled to take his first trip out of town as president via Andrews. The president was still scheduled to fly out of the base to Wilmington, Del., on Friday afternoon, according to the White House schedule.

Acting Air Force Secretary John P. Roth and Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown, the service chief of staff, on Friday ordered the Air Force inspector general to begin a probe into the incident and evaluate installation security and trends at the service’s bases worldwide, the Air Force announced.

“We are still gathering information and facts, but we can assure you, installation security is of critical importance to the Department of the Air Force,” according to a statement from the service.

It was unclear Friday how the man gained access to the base or how he was able to enter an aircraft on the flightline, which is located near the central part of the base.

John Kirby, the Pentagon’s top spokesman, said the incident was alarming and the Defense Department was “taking it seriously.”

Kirby, like other officials, said he could not provide specifics about the incident or the man charged in connection with it.

He said Andrews officials had quickly changed some security procedures at the post by Friday, but he declined to detail such adjustments, citing security concerns.

Base officials vowed to ensure such an incident was not repeated in the future.

"The security of our installation is paramount," said Col. Roy Oberhaus, the vice wing commander of the 316th Wing at Joint Base Andrews. "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.”

Andrews, about 15 miles outside of Washington, is home to the aircraft that routinely fly the president and other top U.S. officials. While the VC-25A fleet of military versions of Boeing’s 747 is best known as Air Force One, any of the varieties of aircraft that fly the president out of Andrews carries the title Air Force One when he is aboard.

That includes the C-40 aircraft that the intruder was able to enter Thursday. A C-40, known as a Clipper, is the military version of the Boeing 737-700C. It is flown by the 89th Air Lift Wing, whose primary mission is to fly the president, vice president, Cabinet members, U.S. elected officials and top military commanders on official business.

dickstein.corey@stripes.com
Twitter: @CDicksteinDC