US President Barack Obama leaves behind the best armoured limousine in the business when he hands over the reins to the incoming president in January. Not only the car, but a bus, helicopter, and, of course, the Boeing 747 known as Air Force One.
Each form of transport is bristling with bullet-proof this and that and electronic everything, but some go further than others. The US$1.5 million presidential limo – ‘Cadillac One’ or ‘The Beast”, above – is a moving fortress impenetrable by bullets and bombs.
The president has 12 identical limos in rotation and, when not in use, they are parked in the basement of the US Secret Service headquarters and under 24-hour surveillance, AutoWeek reports.
Custom-made by General Motors in Detroit, the limo looks like an overgrown Cadillac DTS, but it also borrows parts from the Cadillac Escalade SUV and is said to be built on the chassis of the Chevrolet Kodiak truck.
Not only is it bulletproof, but it’s also IED-proof (improvised explosive device) and can eject infrared smoke grenades in defence against rocket-propelled grenades, and anti-tank missiles. And if that’s not enough, it has tanks of oxygen on board and can be sealed in the event of a chemical attack.
At least two cars travel with the president wherever he goes, each one’s V8 engine gulping 3.7 litres of fuel for every 6km. That’s around 60 litres/100km, or 3.7mpg. The top speed and weight of each car is classified, as is the bulletproof technology used in the windows.
Obama’s presidential bus is known as Ground Force One. It’s 13.7m long, built by Tennessee company Hemphill Brothers Coach, and cost US$1.1m. The Secret Service says it is cost-effective.
Before it came along, the Secret Service rented a new bus every time the president needed one and then retro-fitted it with armour plating and other features. Now it makes transportation logistics easier, as the president can go from Air Force One to Ground Force One.
Ground Force One comes with a suite of security precautions, including run-flat tyres, armoured sheet metal, bullet-proof glass, a fire-fighting system, oxygen tanks, and an extra supply of the president’s blood in case he is injured.
There is also office equipment, including phones, television, rdio, and internet. Just like ‘The Beast’, only a select few will sit behind the wheel of Ground Force One. Since all the windows except those at the front are heavily tinted, Obama has to stand next to the driver in order to wave at crowds while campaigning.
The Marine One helicopter is 22.1m long – slightly longer than a cricket pitch – and 4.9m tall. Basketball star Steven Adams is 2.13m tall.
The chopper has ballistic armour, missile-warning systems, and anti-missile defences. An identical decoy always accompanies Marine One. Unlike most helicopters, it is so quite that Obama can speak in a normal voice. There is 18.5 square metres of interior space and room for 14 passengers.