A vehicle got on to the runway and burst into flames as Mr Panetta’s plane landed in Afghanistan this morning.
The drama unfolded just hours ago on the sprawling base — Britain’s main outpost in the warzone.
Defence supremo Mr Panetta flew into Afghanistan today to quell fears after a US soldier went on the rampage killing 16 innocent Afghans.
But as his plane was landing a vehicle appeared on the runway and subsequently caught fire.
Sources at the scene claim it was a suicide attack — but those allegations have not yet been officially confirmed.