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London plays host to Obama and 'The Beast'

Press Trust Of India  |  London 

What is ‘The Beast’ doing in US President Barack Obama's entourage in London?

The Beast is the custom-fitted sleek limousine that ferries Obama across London as he flits between engagements at 10-Downing Street, the Foreign Office, the US ambassador's residence and the Buckingham palace.

It turns out that the power of The Beast is as much a topic of conversation as the power of the man it carries.

The brand new black Beast was ready for presidential use earlier this year after it was customised at a cost of £200,000.

It comes with a tear gas cannon, a night-vision camera and oxygen tanks. Its reinforced steel plating is said to be able to protect against bullets, chemical attack, and even a missile strike.

The vehicle stands out on the streets of London as it is preceded and followed by a long motorcade consisting of dozens of support cars, police cars and emergency medical vehicles.

Obama, who landed at the Stansted airport yesterday evening on Air Force One, got into his personal VH-3D helicopter called Marine One to travel the distance to the US ambassador's residence in central London.

Like The Beast, Marine One also comes with powerful trappings. It is capable of firing flares to divert heat-seeking missiles - and always flies as part of a convoy of identical decoy aircraft.

Obama's entourage comprises hundreds of security guards, doctors, chefs and other personnel.

Known to be a fitness freak, Obama gave Prime Minister Gordon Brown tips when the two met at the Prime Minister's residence for breakfast this morning. The also has a gym for the President when he feels like working out while in air.

The medical team is one of the most prominent in Obama's entourage, and includes surgeons, nurses and others. A supply of AB-type blood (the president's blood type) travels with him for emergency transfusions.