Since the last presidential assassination, John F. Kennedy in 1963, the Secret Service has really stepped up their game. Presidents travel in long limousines, Cadillacs and the like flanked with the ubiquitous black SUVs. These SUVs are packed full of Secret Service agents and local law-enforcement teams. Since at least President Obama, one in each convoy also carries a secret weapon.
This clip from National Geographic’s look inside armored vehicles showcases the Dillon Tactical convoy escort vehicle. It comes packed with an M134D gatling gun along with many additional secret changes to protect high-ranking officials. Presidential motorcades often have these vehicles in every convoy. They are authorized for use by ambassadors and others working on top-level government business.
History of the Weapon
The first Dillon Aero M134 gatling gun debuted approximately three years before the tragedy of the last presidential assassination. The weapons were not commonly vehicle-mounted at that time. The minigun packed in the convoy escort vehicle has come a long way from the Bostitch-designed feed belts of World War I and Browning automatic rifles of the last century.
The M134D gatling gun fires approximately 50 rounds per second with manual aiming and exceptional accuracy for an automatic weapon. Current models feature laser sights and work with the modifications of the convoy vehicle. This ensures they can protect large areas with a large blanket of fire and a full 360-degree swivel along with 55 degrees of tilt.
Other changes to the big black monster SUV include exceptional window tint, which protects the identities of the servicemen inside as well as disguises which vehicle houses the minigun, and a public address system for warning civilians away from the area or calling in support. The design works natively with the Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon vehicles, though others may be modified to fit the gun and its related accessories. The flip-top armored vehicle design allows for quick deployment in seconds.
The armored vehicle also boasts run-flat tires, reinforced suspension, strobe lights and a fuel tank protected against puncture or explosion. A supercharger gives the engine the power it needs for continual operation at high speeds. The retractable gun mount also features a seat for the gunner as well as a tactical cage to protect gunner, gun and accessories. The weapon can completely discharge a standard 3,000 round magazine in a minute with its six barrels. Larger magazines are available.
With this bad boy in tow and a small army of law-enforcement, Secret Service and support professionals at the ready, it seems the president is safe from whole crowds of would-be assassins. The motorcade’s secret weapon is unlikely to be the last line of defense. The Secret Service doesn’t disclose security measures. It’s just as likely they’ve got something bigger and badder secreted away to ensure the safety of American officials.