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Suburban Assault Vehicles

el Guapo

I was way ahead of this trend.

BUTLER, Pennsylvania (AP) -- The sport utility vehicle that rolls out of the Ibis Tek shop looks just like those driven by millions of soccer moms.

But with a flip of the switch, out of the sunroof pops weaponry ranging from a .50-caliber M2 machine gun to an MK-19 40 mm grenade launcher.

For now, you don't need to worry about a whole new level of road rage -- the western Pennsylvania manufacturer said it is not selling the vehicle in the United States.

But it does ship its one-of-a-kind SUVs elsewhere around the globe, especially to places where "have a safe trip" is more than just a nice thing to say.

Ibis Tek President Tom Buckner opened the company three years ago with his brother, John, and Tom Letter.

The turret, equipped with TV cameras and laser sights, can be controlled from the passenger's seat.
The Ibis Tek Viper, Cobra and Python defense systems are installed on factory-issue trucks such as the Chevrolet Suburban, Lincoln Navigator and larger Ford pickups. They are marketed out of Switzerland.

The company's client list is confidential. Buckner will say only that about a dozen of his vehicles are being used in four Middle Eastern countries. The Royal Guard of Saudi Arabia possesses three.

An Ibis ride with all the trimmings -- including options like armor plating that will stop a 7.62 mm armor-piercing bullet _ costs about $500,000. And that is without the actual firepower; clients must buy their own guns.

Ibis Tek vehicles can weigh as much as 11,000 pounds and gas mileage can dip into the single digits.

The high-tech machine gon controls are mounted in the passenger's seat.
"You don't buy them for the gas mileage," Buckner said.

Sales of the vehicles are strictly regulated by the State Department.

"If the item is not deemed to be something that could prove destabilizing to the region, and there is no outstanding foreign policy reason, it would be eligible for approval," State Department spokesman Jay Greer said. "We consider these things from a national security perspective."

Bucker said the cars are designed for protection, not attack.