Designed to resist AK-47s: Tony Abbott's new bulletproof BMW

By David Wroe - The Sydney Morning Herald

It's not quite The Beast, the legendary armored limousine that protects the US President, but it can stop an AK-47 round or a roadside bomb blast.

And the hulking BMW armored car worth at least $500,000 is now carrying Tony Abbott on his daily travels, delivering him to the Prime Minister's XI cricket match in Canberra on Wednesday.

Amid the heightened current terrorism alert, Mr. Abbott's new ride is one of nine BMW armored cars the government has bought under a $6.3 million contract, replacing the 12-year-old prime ministerial limo fleet of customized Holden Caprices.

The BMW 7 Series High Security cars were first used at the G20, ferrying world leaders around Brisbane, but have been phased into regular use over the holiday period.

The new V-12 prime ministerial fleet will be spread across the country and, when not needed by Mr. Abbott, will be available for visiting VIPs such as foreign leaders and dignitaries.

According to the German auto giant's website, Mr. Abbott's new car "meets the highest standards of ballistic protection", with bulletproof windows made from layers of laminated glass and polycarbonate coating, making them hard but flexible enough to absorb the impact of a bullet.

"It is the first vehicle specifically designed to protect against the world's most widely used firearm, the AK-47," the Munich-based firm's website states.

The armor plating is made from strengthened steel backed up by an interior made from sculpted synthetic fibers that are hard and heat resistant. It all forms "an impenetrable second skin", the website states.

Other safety features include tires that remain inflated even when punctured, a self-sealing petrol tank, an attack alarm and an intercom system that allows the occupants to communicate with people outside without having to open the doors.

It replaces the 2003 V-8 Holden Caprice fleet, which was bought by former prime minister John Howard and was custom-fitted with bulletproof doors and windows, as well as an armored floor and protected fuel tank.

The new cars were the subject of a political stoush with Labor questioning why Holden wasn't considered for the contract after it emerged that BMW did not bid in the original tender. Officials from the Attorney-General's department told recent Senate hearings the original tender winner turned out not to meet the "full requirements" and the department had to seek the best "value for money".

US President Barack Obama rides a customized General Motors Cadillac that the US Secret Service has nicknamed The Beast and famously carries several liters of blood of the President's type in the boot. It is estimated to weigh at least seven tons.

British Prime Minister David Cameron travels in an armored, super-charged, five-liter Jaguar XJ Sentinel that reportedly can release tear gas to disperse an angry crowd.