The U.S. Air Force C-130 had flown from Mali to refuel in Italy with other stops in between, before arriving at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, where the dead boy was discovered.
The boy went unnoticed for so long because it appears he concealed himself in the wheel well in such a way that he was not visible during pre and post-flight inspections. He was eventually found during one of those post-flight maintenance inspection, but not before dying of yet-unknown causes.
The boy's body has been turned over to German authorities, who are conducting the autopsy.
Although it remains unclear where the boy, believed to be an adolescent, boarded the aircraft, authorities believe Mali is most likely as he has African complexion and the refueling station in Italy is recognized as a secure base.
German officials are leading the investigation into the boy's identity and how international military security was breached, with the U.S. Air Force cooperating.