Obama and his mean machine

New Delhi: The most powerful man on the earth surely needs to make a power statement, and one look at the Beast, the armoured car that ferries the US President will tell you that.

President Barack Obama will arrive in the capital on Sunday morning. The Beast – and a stand-in – arrived in a large cargo aircraft on Friday and are parked at Delhi’s international airport.  It will be on the city’s roads from Jan 25. 

American Presidents, post the 1930s, have had the luxury of being whisked away in vehicles that come with utmost comforts. The Federal government of the US has specially commissioned vehicles for presidential use, often specifying advanced communications equipment, special convenience features, armor plating, and defense countermeasures.

The current presidential limousine – Cadillac One – entered service on January 20, 2009. According to the manufacturer, General Motors, the 2009 presidential limousine, based on the Cadillac DTS, is the first not to carry a specific model name.

US President Barack Obama’s Cadillac Limousine car is nicknamed ‘The Beast’ and is designed to protect the President from terror attacks and keep him connected with his administration on the go.

The car’s security and coded communication systems make it the most tech-advanced protection vehicle in the world. It is one of a small fleet of what is believed to be no more than 25 presidential limos GM built for Obama administration.

‘The Beast’, which costs around $1.5 million, is armour-plated and heavier than a cabin door on a Boeing 757 jet. A lock safety mechanism seals off the car like a bank vault in case of an emergency.

There is a combination of dual hardness steel, aluminium, titanium and ceramic to break up possible projectiles. A reinforced five inch steel plate runs under the car for protection in the unlikely event of a bomb placed underneath.

The Built in

The Beast is believed to weigh between seven and eight tons and rides on a GM medium-duty truck chassis, propelled by a diesel engine. The body is sheathed in military-grade armor as much as 8 inches thick on the doors (each of which weighs as much as the cabin door on a Boeing 747).

The armor reportedly is a mix of dual-hardness steel, aluminum, titanium and ceramic. The windows are ballistic glass said to be 5 inches thick, and there’s a woven Kevlar mat covering the floorboard to protect the car.

High-Tech Security Features

The cabin is believed to feature a sealed air recirculation system to protect its occupants from chemical attacks. Windows are larger than on previous presidential cars and a panic button has been installed for Obama to summon help.

Obama’s seat has an executive package featuring a foldaway desktop, laptop with wi-fi, state-of-the-art satellite phone and a direct line to the Vice-President and the Pentagon.

Equipped With Weapons

The Beast is equipped with night vision cameras and pump action shotguns and armed with tear gas cannons. Bottles of President’s blood are kept on board in case he needs an emergency transfusion. Kevlar reinforced, shred- and puncture-resistant tyres with steel rims underneath enables the car to escape at speed even if tyres are blasted away. The car runs on 19.5-inch Goodyear RHS tyres.

Driver’s Compartment

The car has a standard steering wheel, but the dash board contains a communications centre and GPS tracking system. The driver’s window can withstand armour piercing bullets and .44 Magnum. The window can be lowered only 3 inches. The driver is trained by the Secret Service to escape and evade enemy and perform a 180-degree ‘J-turn’.

Graphic by John Lawson.

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