Now that Joe Biden is the 46th President of the United States, keeping him on the roll safely will be a daunting task for Secret Service, like it has been for years since the JFK assassination. Unanimously termed as the turning point for the President’s bodyguards called Secret Service, a lot of technology and money goes into saving one of the world’s most powerful state head.
Let’s understand what modes of transportation the new President will utilize to travel domestic and international destinations and what’s the cost involved:
In the air
The primary means of long-distance air travel for the president are two identical heavily modified Boeing 747 commercial jets referred to as Air Force One. One of the these jets carry the President, his entourage and many office bearers and often called Oval Office in the Sky as in case of any adverse situation, President operates from the plane itself.
Apart from having a space of over 4,000 square feet spread over three levels, it is equipped with over 85 onboard telephones, computer facilities and two-way radios. It also has radar jammers, flare to evade heat-seeking missiles and can be refuelled mid-air. A secure communications centre allows the aircraft to function as a mobile command centre in the event of an attack on the United States.
The aircraft also has an extensive suite for the President, a medical facility and operating table, a conference room, dining room, designated areas for the press, VIPs and security, secretarial staff and food preparation galleys that can feed 100 people at a time.
Then there’s the Marine One helicopter which can often be seen picking the President up from the White House’s front lawn. The Marine One is either a VH-3D Sea King or VH-60N White Hawk with communication systems and anti-missile defence systems. The chopper is used for short routes in and outside country and often fly in multiple numbers bearing same design acting as a decoy.
Then, there’s the C5 Galaxy cargo aircraft which carries the President’s limousines to various countries he is visiting.
But how much does it all cost? According to Freedom of Information Act disclosures made in 2017, Air Force One costs $142,380 (approximately Rs 1.02 crore), for every hour of flight time. Now that’s just the cost of one Jumbo and there are two of them. Then there’s Marine One, C5 Galaxy and more cargo planes.
On the road
If you thought the Presidential plane was fancy, wait till you see ‘The Beast’. A duo of custom-built, 9,000-kg monster often called “the Beast” are used for on-ground transportation of the President. These are General Motor-made Cadillac One limousines with armour-plated bodies, bullet-proof windows, medical supplies and a fridge with the President’s blood type.
The new model was commissioned in 2018 and also has a tear gas grenade launchers, night vision cameras and a built-in satellite phone. The car can even run in case of a flat tyre as steel-rimmed wheels have been used to reinforce them. As mentioned above, the Cadillacs also have their own designated air transport to fly them wherever the President is going.
The rest of the President’s motorcade has other modern backup vehicles, intelligence teams, counter-attack teams, special communications SUV, medical and press vehicles, secret service agents and an ambulance, usually accompanied by two or three Osprey MV-22 escort aircraft.