Known as "the world’s toughest bus," the Rhino Runner is a unique military vehicle used to transport politicians, dignitaries and other very important persons (VIPs) in Iraq.
Armored and Tough
Classified as an armoured car, the Rhino Runner is a custom built bus manufactured by Labock Technologies of Weston, Florida. The vehicle claims to be as tough as a tank. Built at a cost of nearly $300,000 per bus, the Rhino Runner has been developed to withstand armour piercing bullets, rockets, grenades, land mines, and improvised explosive devices. The bus typically seats 24 people, but can accommodate as many as 36 passengers.
Unique features of the Rhino Runner include gun ports, run-flat tires that continue to operate after being punctured, and light weight composite armor. Each bus also contains one-way bulletproof glass. This allows people inside the bus to shoot out, but prevents bullets from entering the vehicle. Altogether, Rhino Runners are said to have "360 degree ballistic protection" – meaning that they are protected on all sides. The bus runs on a six cylinder turbo diesel engine that operates at 240 horsepower.
Use in Deadly Areas of Iraq
Several Rhino Runners are used throughout Iraq to protect military and civilian personnel who are traveling in deadly regions and combat zones. The bus is frequently used to shuttle politicians, dignitaries and various VIPs around the country. In the past, Rhino Runners have transported former U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers. Rhino Runners have also been used to transport high profile prisoners, including former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Rhino Runners are used extensively on the well document "Route Irish" in Iraq. This is a deadly stretch of road that runs between the Baghdad International Airport and the "Green Zone" area in central Baghdad that has been used as the headquarters of the Coalition Provisional Authority.
In recent years, Rhino Runners have had to deal with a number of attacks from insurgents in Iraq. The vehicles have been hit with rockets, mortars, even 1,000 pound bombs. The durability of the buses places them in growing demand with the U.S. military and other armed forces around the world.