We have been waiting for a new presidential limousine, also known lovingly as the Beast due to its heavy armor and high stance, for years now. The last major iteration of POTUS's chariot was introduced way back during Obama's inauguration in 2009. Since then, there has been constant talk that a new model would emerge at various events over the years. Now that time has finally come, with the new super-sized Caddy making its debut appearance at the Wall Street Heliport in downtown Manhattan on Sunday, September 23th, 2018.
The Beast is the heart of the presidential motorcade, the anatomy of which you can read all about in this past feature of mine, and like any vehicle, the presidential limousines do wear out. But before being fully retired, they usually funnel down to working as VVIP vehicles for subjects with lower threat profiles, like visiting dignitaries or even the Vice President, before eventually being pulled from service.
Over the last decade, up-armored Suburban's have increasingly taken up this slack, putting less pressure on the older limousines that once served in the Secret Service's presidential fleet and on the presidential limousine pool itself.
This new Beast was known to be in the final stages of testing when images of it draped in camouflage fabric to hide its true appearance popped up last April. The vehicle was the first publically viewable result of a $15.8M contract awarded to General Motors in 2014 for "Next Generation Parade Limousine Phase 2 and 3."
Fox News queried GM and the Secret Service about the limousine in testing and they responded, stating:
It looks like they nailed that goal.
Even though the presidential limo has stayed the same for nearly the decade, we have seen other major changes and upgrades to the presidential motorcade, including this even beastlier communications and command and control truck that brings up the rear guard of the procession. Meanwhile other heads of state have upgraded their own limousines in recent months. Most notably, Vladimir Putin finally got an indigenously developed beast of his own, giving up the armored Mercedes limousines he had used exclusively in the past. That car debuted during Putin's inauguration last May. Chinese President Xi Jinping also received a new, indigenously developed limo, with that vehicle appearing during his trip to Africa just last month.
But above any foreign executive limousine, the Beast is truly an icon and has fascinated automotive enthusiasts the world over. Even Kim Jong Un, who is known to have a high interest in transportation vehicles of all types, was given a special look of the Beast while meeting Trump in Singapore back in June. The ruler of North Korea has used a small fleet of Mercedes Pullman Guard limos that date back the better part of a decade.
The new presidential limo carries over some of the aesthetic design elements of Cadillac's flagship CT6 sedan, but that's where the similarities end. The exact capabilities of the presidential limousine are classified, but we do know some of its features. These include heavy armor of various types and layers that can repel direct attacks and a mine-resistant, ambush protected hull design which gives the vehicle its tall silhouette.
A highly tuned suspension allows for this driving fortress to be still nimble and self assured enough on the road to allow Secret Service drivers to execute complex escape and evasion maneuvers, like J turns, in relatively tight spaces. Remember, the vehicle and its crew's mission is not to take on an attacking force, but to evade and/or escape from one.
A fire suppression system assures that even in the worst of wrecks, the occupants won't burn alive inside the armored cocoon. Kevlar reinforced run-flat tires ensure the limo can keep rolling to safety even after taking multiple direct hits.
The Beast is based on a highly reinforced and armored truck frame, not a car frame, and is equipped with heavy running gear that can handle its immense weight. The cabin is sealed from the outside world and a military-grade environmental system allows for protection in nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) warfare environments. A night vision driving system is also included and a communications suite that links into the motorcade's rolling highly-secure wireless network. Bags of blood that match Trump's type are kept refrigerated inside the vehicle in case of an emergency where the motorcade's ambulance cannot gain access to the president.
The Beast's defensive measures are kept very hush-hush but some many have stated they include the ability to deploy smokescreens, oil slicks, disperse teargas, and even send electrical charges through the car's door handles. As a last line of defense, Secret Service agents inside the vehicle are ready and able to defend it with small arms.
As I have noted in the past, the Presidential motorcade is both the most threatened place to be on the road and the safest, depending on how you look at it. But this new Beast should only improve the President's odds of survival should a complex attack occur. At the same time, it's worth remembering that no vehicle can protect the president alone.
A sprawling ecosystem that includes elaborate pre-planning, training, intelligence gathering, engagement with local law enforcement and aviation assets, route clearing, and the motorcade workings seamlessly as an integrated package are what makes each journey as success. The same can be said for when the President attends higher risk events or travels to any location for that matter. It is a very complex, exhaustive, and expensive ballet that doesn't really get recognized unless something goes wrong, and it rarely does—a testament to the dedication and skills of all involved.
What do you think of the Beast's new look? Let us know in the comments below.
UPDATE: 6:45pm PST—
Another angle from Dan Scavino aboard Marine One.
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