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$1.1 million bus used by Obama has high-tech defenses – but what are they?

$1.1 million bus: the Obama bus is making waves as it travels through the Midwest. But what equipment does a $1.1 million bus come with?

By Chris RichardsonStaff / August 17, 2011

$1.1 million bus: President Barack Obama's bus and motorcade moves through the Iowa countryside in Guttenberg, Iowa, Tuesday. Many people want to know what kind of bus $1.1 million buys.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

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President Barack Obama has logged more than 300 miles in the rural Midwest so far on what Republican frontrunner, Mitt Romney, is calling his “Magical Misery Tour.” The three-day bus trip will take President Obama through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.

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But many are more interested in the mystery than any economic misery. The mystery is of course what kind of bus $1.1 million buys.

The imposing Greyhound-sized bus is black, with blacked out windows and red and blue police lights.

The Secret Service refuses to give away many details on the design, but has said it has similar features to Obama’s regular ride, The Beast. The tricked-out Cadillac known as The Beast looks like a regular limousine, but is built more like a tank.

If the Obama Bus is similar to The Beast, it will have tank-like armor and cutting edge technology. For example, The Beast has 8-inch thick armor-plated sides, special bulletproof glass, and Kevlar-reinforced tires. The tires are mounted on specially designed rims that can continue to drive even if the tires are missing.

Like The Beast, the bus is probably airtight, and likely has an advanced fire suppression system, oxygen tanks, and is built to withstand a chemical attack.

In case of a medical emergency, bags of Obama’s blood are likely carried onboard just as they are in The Beast.

With more room than The Beast, the bus will probably have more defensive tricks up its sleeves than The Beast’s night vision cameras, shotguns, and tear-gas cannons.

The electronics and communications are no doubt state of the art, and are sure to replicate The Beast’s direct satellite phone line to the Vice President and the Pentagon.

The Secret Service used a fund for transportation and armored vehicles to buy two of these buses from the Hemphill Brothers Coach Company for a total of $2,191,960. No word on whether the company will make more, but Cadillac said they would not make The Beast for any private customers or foreign country saying the design is “very private and secretive.” Chances are these buses are two of a kind and will remain so.

While $2.2 million may sound expensive, it is expected to be cheaper than the normal leased buses over a ten year span, and a Secret Service official implied leased buses aren’t safe enough, saying, "we have not been satisfied with the level of protection offered by leased buses.”

And they aren’t just for the President. The second bus is expected to be used by the Republican presidential candidate and both will eventually be used for visiting dignitaries and future officeholders and candidates.

But until the Secret Service releases more details, the real technology inside the Obama bus will remain a mystery.

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