US President Joe Biden has arrived in the UK on his first official trip abroad.
This is his first stop on an eight-day visit to Europe. He will attend a G7 leaders’ meeting in Cornwall and see the Queen before crossing the Channel for more formal events – including his first NATO summit as president, and will conclude by meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.
Mr. Biden doesn’t travel lightly. The US president has a range of specialized vehicles to help him get around safely and comfortably, on land and in the air.
And none is more iconic than the presidential plane – Air Force One.
The plane touched down at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk on Wednesday, where Mr Biden met with US personnel stationed at the base before departing for Cornwall.
As the White House website explains, Air Force One is actually the air traffic control panel for any Air Force aircraft with the US President on board.
But for the most part, the term is used to refer to the two famous white and blue planes – specially adapted Boeing 747-200B series planes, which carry the tail codes 28000 and 29000.
The planes have advanced communications, avionics and defenses – including protection against electromagnetic pulses and flares to launch heat-seeking missiles – meaning they can function as an airborne command center and mobile in the event of an attack on the United States.
They are also capable of in-flight refueling, which in theory means planes have unlimited range.
Inside, there are 4,000 square feet (372 m²) of floor space spread over three levels. Besides a presidential suite, there are also medical facilities, food galleys, and space for advisers, Secret Service protection officers, and journalists.
For short trips in the air, the President uses helicopters – recognizable by their predominantly green bodywork and white soft top.
Marine One – again, not just a helicopter, but the name of any Marine Corps aircraft carrying the U.S. President – typically refers to a VH-3D Sea King or a VH-60N White Hawk.
Decoy versions of Marine One often fly alongside the President’s helicopter. It is also usually accompanied in the air by escort planes, including the Osprey MV-22 – known as the “Green Top”.
British readers may recall the tilt-rotor planes flying over London when former President Donald Trump visited in 2018. They are capable of vertical take-off and landing and are designed to combine the functions of a helicopter with the scope of a turboprop aircraft.
Once on the ground, President Biden switches from Air Force One or Marine One to Cadillac One – nicknamed The Beast.
This generation of presidential car debuted in 2018.
The manufacturer General Motors and the Secret Service have not given much on the specific safety features of the car. But reports suggest he weighs around nine tons (20,000 lbs) and has an armored body and bulletproof windows.
He is said to have tear gas grenade launchers, night vision cameras and a built-in satellite phone. The cabin is said to be sealed and the tires are reinforced so that the car can still move even with flat tires.
The Beast can hold at least seven people and has a wide range of medical supplies on board, including a refrigerator with blood matching the President’s blood type, in case of an emergency.
A large procession of vehicles – made up of security, doctors, helpers and the press – is also part of the presidential procession.
Secret Service agents will have already traveled to Cornwall to scout the location of the G7 summit – looking for the best route through the narrow country roads for The Beast and his entourage.
Former President Barack Obama’s visit to Downing Street in 2009 became a viral hit after the car struggled to turn on the famous street. The driver on another trip in 2016 was more successful.
Access is strictly controlled at Carbis Bay on the county’s north coast, where world leaders gather for the event.
The world’s seven largest so-called advanced economies participate in G7 summits. Besides the United States, this includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, and the EU.