الأربعاء، 25 مايو 2011

the president's armored car--nicknamed the Beast--got stuck


President Obama made quite an exit Monday as his armored car attempted to leave the U.S. Embassy in Dublin, Ireland.
As crowds of onlookers patiently waited for a glimpse of the president, the White House motorcade began to peel out of the embassy via the exit ramp Monday morning. But when the car--the armored Cadillac nicknamed "The Beast"--holding Obama and wife Michelle reached the gate, a loud "clang" resounded and the car lurched.
The crowd immediately switched from cheering to groaning as the vehicle stopped and sat on the exit ramp.
A reporter with Ireland's RTE network said the car's low underbelly appeared to have caught on a piece of metal possibly related to the embassy gate.
The Beast is built to withstand much tougher perils than a piece of metal in an Irish road. As Wired writer Ben Mack notes "you can bet Obama's ride is the toughest, most sophisticated car anywhere. Think of it as the road-going equivalent to Air Force One."
Mack is speculating because the precise nature of the presidential limo's security feature is a closely guarded national security secret. But as he goes on to write:

Limo One is believed to weigh between seven and eight tons, and spy shots suggest it 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, Motor Authority says). 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 Dan Neil of the Los Angeles Times says there's probably a woven Kevlar mat covering the floorboard to protect the car from blasts. The cabin is believed to feature a sealed air recirculation system to protect its occupants from chemical attacks.
This isn't the first time the Beast has created a stir abroad, either. At a NATO summit in Lisbon last year, other world leaders made a show of arriving in low-emission hybrid vehicles, to advertise their commitment to the kind of green technology that was taking center stage at the gathering. So Obama's eight-ton diesel-fueled limo was rather conspicuous. As AOL News reported at the time, Portuguese President Jose Socrates drily told reporters on hand, "I'd like to underline the priority both our countries assign to renewable energy and electric vehicles." Portugal then proceeded to drive the contrast home with special notices to the press touting its "world pioneering leadership in electric mobility."
AFP reports that the Obamas eventually switched to another car to drive to the Marine Force One helicopter en route to Moneygall--the town where the president's great-great-great grandfather once lived.

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