The Beast: The President's Ride
The limousine used by President Obama is unlike any previous presidential vehicle. With a price tag in excess of $300,000 it looks like a Cadillac DTS on the outside but its chassis, diesel engine and transmission are based on those used in the Chevrolet Kodiak. The vehicle is so up-armored and filled with gear the agents call it The Beast. When in use it’s surrounded by a motorcade of up to thirty other vehicles including a decoy vehicle, a mobile communications center, press, local police, and other armed vehicles. The vehicle only gets 8 mpg with a top speed of 60 mph so they try not to take it on long road trips. The Beast has its own airplane and is flown all over the country/world in advance of the president and waits for his arrival. During the days of détente, when President Nixon and Henry Kissinger were in the Soviet Union they would delay any meaningful conversations with each other until they were ensconced in the presidential limo. It was the only place they were absolutely certain wasn’t bugged and one of the main reasons why they brought it along on the trip.
The exact specifications of the vehicle are classified as national security, but some of them have been made public while others are speculation.
The Beast is arguably the best armored vehicle with windows on Earth. Its armor plating is said to be 8 inches thick and its doors weigh as much as those of a Boeing 757. The body armoring does not seam but rather overlaps, allowing the vehicle to maintain an airtight seal. The superstructure is made of titanium, ceramic, steel, and aluminum and a 5 inch reinforced steel plate runs under the vehicle for additional protection from explosives. The tires are nearly the size of bus tires and are Kevlar-reinforced run flats that will keep the vehicle on the road in the event of an emergency. The steel rims the tires are mounted on will carry the vehicle away at speed even in the event the tires are shredded. The fuel is diesel for two reasons: 1) it is available all over the world unlike high quality unleaded fuel; and, 2) diesel fuel has a low volatility that reduces the risk of it exploding. The fuel tank is armor plated and filled with specifically designed foam that keeps it from exploding even when subjected to a direct hit.
The only window that opens on the vehicle is that of the driver and that window only opens a scant three inches so he can converse with Secret Service agents outside of the vehicle. Details about the windows are hard to come by but they are believed to be 5 inches thick. The first few layers are glass that are designed to absorb the energy of a projectile while the rest of the layers are plastic and designed to catch the projectile, much like a glove catching a ball. Other window specifications are unknown.
With all the armor-plating and the way the vehicle’s interior compartment is sealed airtight, it is soundproof within the vehicle. To hear sounds from the outside there are microphones positioned on the vehicle’s exterior and connected to interior speakers. The Beast is in constant communication with the other specialized vehicles in the motorcade and, if needed, the White House. The president can call virtually anywhere in the world from the vehicle through the command and control communications setup.
The rear compartment seats four passengers plus the president and includes a glass partition that only the president has the ability to raise or lower. There is also a panic button in reach of the president should the need arise to summon help. The president’s seat has a foldaway desktop, laptop computer with Wi-Fi, and a state-of-the-art phone with direct lines to the vice-president and Pentagon.
The driver is trained by the CIA to be able to cope with any driving condition. The driver/vehicle is capable of doing a 180 degree turn in a matter of seconds. He has also worked with engineers and test drivers on GM test tracks. While there is a standard steering column the driver’s dashboard contains a communications center and GPS tracking systems.
There are weapons stored in various compartments within the vehicle, especially in the trunk. The trunk also holds an oxygen supply and specialized fire-fighting equipment. It is rumored the trunk also contains a supply of the president’s blood in the event he would need a transfusion.
It is suspected The Beast has the ability to fire infrared smoke grenades to act as chaff and screen the vehicle from rocket propelled grenade or missile attacks. It is also thought the driver has a special video system that gives him the ability to navigate the vehicle in blackout or whiteout visibility due to conditions (whether they be smoke, complete darkness, or weather, etc.) One would suspect strongly that in addition to The Beast’s defensive capabilities it would also have an offensive arsenal to call on as well that is beyond the Secret Service agents and other vehicles accompanying it.
On top of everything, The Beast can be sealed from the outside world. It would be possible to survive and escape a biological attack in the vehicle. The only downside to the vehicle is, due to its massive weight, in excess of 20,000 pounds, it takes The Beast 15 seconds to go from zero to 60 mph. The Beast won’t be beating anyone off the line any time soon.
The Secret Service actually has a few Beast-like vehicles. It is not known if they are all functionally identical or the basis on which they are rotated through presidential service.