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Tyndall gets first x-ray system for gate vehicle checks

Senior Airman Qwuantez Harris, 325th Security Forces Squadron search specialist, readies Tyndall AFB’s new Mobile Vehicle Access Control Inspection System, or VACIS M6500, for incoming commercial vehicles.

Senior Airman Qwuantez Harris, 325th Security Forces Squadron search specialist, readies Tyndall AFB’s new Mobile Vehicle Access Control Inspection System, or VACIS M6500, for incoming commercial vehicles. The state-of-the-art x-ray machine eliminates the need for hands-on, high stress searches and increases performance, both in number of vehicles searched and time efficiency. (U.S. Air Force photo by Taylor Koopman)

Senior Airmen Qwuantez Harris and Norman Shoemake, 325th Security Forces Squadron search specialists, deploy the Air Force’s first Mobile Vehicle Access Control Inspection System, or VACIS M6500, at the Tyndall AFB Cleveland gate.

Senior Airmen Qwuantez Harris and Norman Shoemake, 325th Security Forces Squadron search specialists, deploy the Air Force’s first Mobile Vehicle Access Control Inspection System, or VACIS M6500, at the Tyndall AFB Cleveland gate. The state-of-the-art x-ray machine rapidly scans incoming vehicles carrying building materials and other cargo as part of the five to seven year rebuild, conducting searches in under two minutes – a process that normally takes up to 15 minutes – to help process four times the number of vehicles an hour. (U.S. Air Force photo by Taylor Koopman)

Senior Airman Norman Shoemake, 325th Security Forces Squadron search specialist, reviews x-ray images of commercial vehicles seeking access to Tyndall AFB.

Senior Airman Norman Shoemake, 325th Security Forces Squadron search specialist, reviews x-ray images of commercial vehicles seeking access to Tyndall AFB. The scans provide an in-depth analysis and allow search specialists to quickly and efficiently scan for anomalies, ensure the correct number of passengers are in the vehicle, and confirm there is nothing in the cargo that should not be there. (U.S. Air Force photo by Taylor Koopman)

Senior Airman Norman Shoemake, 325th Security Forces Squadron search specialist, gives the all-clear to an incoming commercial vehicle after reviewing an x-ray of the vehicle and its cargo.

Senior Airman Norman Shoemake, 325th Security Forces Squadron search specialist, gives the all-clear to an incoming commercial vehicle after reviewing an x-ray of the vehicle and its cargo. With the VACIS M6500 at Tyndall AFB, commercial vehicle searches can be conducted in under two minutes – a process that normally takes up to 15 minutes – to help process four times the number of vehicles an hour. (U.S. Air Force photo by Taylor Koopman)

Senior Airmen Qwuantez Harris and Norman Shoemake, 325th Security Forces Squadron search specialists, deploy the Air Force’s first Mobile Vehicle Access Control Inspection System, or VACIS M6500, at the Tyndall AFB Cleveland gate.

Senior Airmen Qwuantez Harris and Norman Shoemake, 325th Security Forces Squadron search specialists, deploy the Air Force’s first Mobile Vehicle Access Control Inspection System, or VACIS M6500, at the Tyndall AFB Cleveland gate. The state-of-the-art x-ray machine rapidly scans incoming vehicles carrying building materials and other cargo as part of the five to seven year rebuild, conducting searches in under two minutes – a process that normally takes up to 15 minutes – to help process four times the number of vehicles an hour. (U.S. Air Force photo by Taylor Koopman)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Searching commercial vehicles just got a whole lot easier for members of the 325th Security Forces Squadron here.

The “Installation of the Future” received the Air Force’s first Mobile Vehicle Access Control Inspection System, or VACIS M6500, at the Cleveland gate Dec. 21.

The state-of-the-art, dual-mode x-ray machine will rapidly expedite the search process for incoming vehicles carrying building materials and other cargo as part of the five- to seven-year rebuild of the base that was devastated by Hurricane Michael in October 2018.

The $2.2 million asset is a welcome addition to search specialists at Tyndall, particularly as construction on the installation begins to ramp up. 

“Compared to the traditional search method, the number of vehicles we can analyze now is unparalleled,” said Senior Airman Norman Shoemake, search specialist. “The image from the x-ray will allow us to quickly and efficiently scan for any anomalies, ensure the correct number of passengers are in the vehicle and confirm there is nothing in the cargo that should not be there.”

The VACIS M6500 will allow for a drastic increase in performance, both in number of vehicles searched and time efficiency, Shoemake said.

With the x-ray machine, commercial vehicle searches can be conducted in about two minutes, a process that normally took up to 15 minutes.

Senior Airman Qwuantez Harris, a search specialist, said the new system will also help alleviate stress related to the high-stakes vehicle search process.

Before the VACIS M6500, search specialists used a manual process. They would direct drivers to turn off their vehicles, open up all the compartments and then complete a thorough search of the entire vehicle before drivers would be allowed to enter the installation.

“It can be stressful because you have no idea what you are potentially walking into,” Harris said. “Now we have a complete visual of the vehicle, something we’ve never had before, and a much more in-depth analysis of the situation.”

As a bonus, Tyndall’s search specialists believe the x-ray will act as a psychological deterrent for would-be offenders.

The VACIS M6500 is just one of many innovations the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s Tyndall Program Management Office is employing to construct the most advanced and capable installation in the Air Force.

For more information about the rebuild, visit https://www.afimsc.af.mil/TyndallPMO/.