The presidential state car is heavily armored to protect the President of the United States from potential threats during transportation. It is nicknamed "The Beast." Although precise specifications of Cadillac One are confidential, here’s a look at the most probable features and specs.
The body is made of layers of composite ballistic materials and air gaps whose main purpose is to decrease the energy of incoming projectiles and "catch" them if possible. The exact materials used or sequence of the layers may vary.
1 Cosmetic layer
The cosmetic layer is made of aluminum and sports a coat of black paint and presidential decals.
2 Steel and titanium
Layers of ballistic steel (steel that is strengthened through heat treatments) and titanium can flatten projectiles to provide a bigger surface area for other layers to catch.
Armormax, is the strongest, lightest weight material (made of multi-layer, lightweight, synthetic fiber laminates) layer, and is the main barrier used to stop or catch projectiles.
Polyethylene armor (rigid sheets of plastic coated in ultra-high molecular weight fibers) acts as a second layer to catch projectiles and shrapnel.
A layer of polycarbonate (plastic armor sheet with high tensile strength and flexibility) serves as a third layer to catch loose shrapnel.
A layer of honeycomb-structured aluminum allows room for projectiles and shrapnel to "bounce around" until they lose enough energy to stop.
Ceramic protects against anti-tank weapons by shattering to absorb the energy from them.
8 Additional layers
Additional layers of steel, titanium, polyethylene, and polycarbonate may be present to bolster the capabilities of the armor.
9 Ballistic blanket
A flexible ballistic fabric (light-weight, high-strength, woven fabric made from synthetic fibers) is fitted to the interior floor to absorb shrapnel from an explosion underneath the vehicle.
10 Transparent armor
Transparent armor (glass) is made of laminated glass (tempered glass bound together with plastic resin interlayers). The glass absorbs the projectile’s energy and the projectile and the glass shatter. The plastic flexes to absorb any remaining energy and holds the shattered glass together.
Multiple layers of polycarbonate are sandwiched between the layers of laminated glass, and a final layer covers the interior side of the glass. On Cadillac One, the driver’s window can roll down only a few inches, while the other windows are unable to.
The shape of Cadillac One makes it appear to be the size of a standard sedan. In reality, it’s about as tall as a large SUV. (Average height male for comparison)
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Armor in action
1 Armored body
The bullet pierces the steel and is deformed into a flatter piece of metal, which allows the layer of Armormax to catch it more easily. Layers of polyethylene and polycarbonate flex, and the ceramic layer cracks to dissipate all energy from the bullet.
2 Transparent armor
The bullet deforms as the laminated glass shatters to absorb energy from the bullet and the polycarbonate flexes to catch it.
The mechanical parts of the Beast are specially chosen and manufactured to accommodate added weight from the armored body.
1 Fuel tank
The fuel tank is filled with foam that separates the gasoline into small chambers and lessens fuel vapor that can cause explosions. It is also covered with layers of rubber that absorb fuel and expand to seal punctures, and is encased in ballistic armor.
The chassis is probably from a medium-duty, 1½ ton truck.
3 Suspension and brakes
The Beast is outfitted with heavy-duty suspension and disc brakes to compensate for the added weight from the armor.
The Beast most likely uses a gasoline-powered 8.1-liter V8 motor, and is rumored to only reach about 60 mph and 8 mpg.
Reinforced-sidewall "run-flat" tires include support rings, and bear the weight of the vehicle if the tires are blown out or flattened.
The battery is protected by ballistic armor.
Most estimates put the vehicle weight somewhere between 12,000-15,000 lbs.; similar to a large moving truck (box truck).
The belly of The Beast
The interior of The Beast is a hermetically sealed (airtight) environment that offers protection from chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear attacks.
1 Additional supplies
Oxygen tanks and a supply of the president’s blood type are stowed in the trunk.
Extra padding is sewn into the interior of Cadillac One to offer comfort and safety in case of impact.
The president has access to a laptop with Wi-Fi, a secure video system, and a satellite phone with direct lines to the vice president and the Pentagon. Because sound doesn’t easily pass through the sealed body, there are speakers and microphones that allow the president to communicate with outside persons.
The driver is one of several Secret Service agents who is trained to maneuver the limo and evade danger.
5 Onboard environmental system
Fresh air enters through a series of high efficiency filters. The interior of the vehicle also has a "positive pressure" system (higher pressure inside than outside), keeping unfiltered air outside.
6 Firefighting system
The Beast is equipped with CO2 tanks and heat-sensitive tubing; when exposed to fire, the tubing bursts and CO2 is released to extinguish the fire.
Cadillac One is allegedly equipped with several defensive mechanisms designed to help the president safely escape an attack.
1 Tack dispenser
A small dispenser under the rear of the vehicle releases road tacks to puncture the tires of an attacker’s vehicle.
2 Smoke screen
A modified exhaust system emits an infrared smoke screen to obscure sight.
3 RPGs and pump-action shotguns
Defensive weapons are hidden inside Cadillac One for use by Secret Service agents.
4 Oil slick dispenser
Two small tanks located just inside the rear tires dispense oil to deter pursuers.
5 Electric door handles
A switch inside the vehicle activates a power inverter that sends 120 volts to the door handles.
6 Tear gas dispenser
A small tank behind the front grill can release a cloud of tear gas if needed.
7 Night vision optics
A thermographic camera behind the front grill allows the driver to navigate in low light or dark.
8 Strobe lights
Bright strobe lights in the front grill can distract and blind attackers.
Thanks to Mark Burton and The International Armoring Corporation for helping us understand how armored cars work. http://www.armormax.com/
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