Patrol In Style With This Up-Armored 7-Class BMW
Here’s something you might see everyday here in Washington, D.C. But, even if you saw it, you’d have to look pretty hard to notice what makes it different than every other luxury sedan on the road.
We caught up with Manfred Hotschek, project manager of security and specialty cars for BMW M GmBh, at an event held last night in D.C. The event was hosted by the O’Gara Group, providers of mobile personal security to clients including the U.S. State Department, U.S. SOCOM and a myriad of other U.S.- and foreign-based government and civilian clients. The event featured a look behind the tinted glass at a couple of O’Gara’s products that showcase their ability to combine high-security, discreet-appearance vehicles with a suite of communication, countermeasure, survival and threat sensing technology. And by discreet, I mean vehicles with a non-tactical appearance. Otherwise, there isn’t anything discreet about a 7-Class Beemer.
There are companies out there that slap thousands of pounds of armor on a commercial vehicle, but the car or SUV becomes any easily recognized, low performance, uncomfortable pig. The 760Li SES is the automotive epitome of flight or fight. It’s the 5th generation product of BMW’s Special Cars division that has all the protection of an armored vehicle but still performs to the standards of a 7-Series BMW. The BMW SES Special Cars division (Safety Emergency and Security) has been around since the 1970s, manufacturing purpose-built armored BMWs in their Dingolfing, Germany, workshop.
The employees at BMW SES don’t convert cars that come off the line. They build cars from the ground up that have the appearance and performance of their unarmored siblings; the differences are only apparent from the inside. Hotschek explains the 760Li is about 20 percent stock with the other 80 percent coming from the SES shop. Everything from body and trim to tires and axles are custom made to suit the armored vehicles. But, BMW uses non-customized powerplants in its SES vehicles so they can be taken to just about any of BMW’s dealers for maintenance or repairs.
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A unique challenge for the international company, BMW doesn’t have access to the sensitive, export controlled equipment that end-users will install in its products. So, BMW works from specifications delivered by the client, in this case O’Gara, to produce a car with mounting points and wiring harnesses that accommodate the client-prescribed suite of electronics equipment and features. Avoiding all that ITAR business, they ship the car, minus the black boxes, and the client completes the vehicle at the delivery destination.
The 760Li SES presented here is four thousand pounds of armor wrapping a suite of fully integrated C4ISR and survivability features including:
- 12 cylinder engine with a 210 kph top speed and acceleration of 0-100 km/h in 6.2 seconds
- Gross weight of 4,200 k
- Cruising range is more than 400 km on a tank of gas
- VR7 BKA rated armored glass and VR9 BKA rated armored body provides protection from 7.62×51 bullets, fragmentation and undercarriage blast
- 60 mm side glass in all four partially-lowering windows
- Counter IED system made by ITT Exelis that disrupts infrared triggered EFP devices (like this one)
- Harris SATCOM radio (unfortunately taking the place of the rear seat champagne chiller option)
- Electronic countermeasures that include broad spectrum radio frequency jamming
- GPS linked navigation and communication (Blue Force Tracker)
- 24v-based voltage conversion system to run suite of military-grade mobile electronics
- Cabin mounted auxiliary power
- Hidden antennae for multi-band communications
- Run flat tires that can go 50 km/h at 177 km/h. (110 mph!)
- Interior storage for first aid equipment and compact weapons such as the HK MP5 or MP7
- 8 external day/night/thermal cameras linked to a HUD and DVR
- Gunshot detection and locating system
- Night vision driving system including infrared headlights
- Instant blackout for running dark
- Fire suppression
- Auxiliary oxygen system
- Additional noise dampening
- Panic switch to lock-down external access to the vehicle
If the 720Li SES is a little to rich for your post-deployment dreams, have a look at the BMW X5 SES. It’s not as refined as the 720Li, but it will still get you where you want to go without having to worry about calibers up to .44 Magnum.
View Rob Curtis’ original post and photo gallery at the Gear Scout blog.