Special Duties Unit

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Special Duties Unit (SDU)
SDU Patch.jpg
Land Team's patch.
Active July 1974 - present
Country  Hong Kong
Branch HongKongPoliceLogo.svg Hong Kong Police Force
Type Special Police
Role Paramilitary, counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, and law enforcement
Size Over 130 officers
Part of Police Tactical Unit
Garrison/HQ Fanling
Nickname Flying Tigers
Motto Strength, Discipline, Unity.
Mascot Tiger
Anniversaries 2004
Chief Inspector Danko ChiuKong AuYeung[1]

The Special Duties Unit (Abbreviation: SDU; Chinese: 特別任務連, nicknamed Flying Tigers 飛虎隊) is an elite paramilitary tactical unit of the Hong Kong Police Force. Established in July 1974, it is a sub-division of the Police Tactical Unit (PTU).[2] Its primary functions include counter-terrorism, hostage rescue and dealing with crimes (usually involving firearms) which are considered too dangerous for regular police to handle. The unit was formerly trained by the British SAS before the handover of Hong Kong to China.

The Special Duties Unit is based in Fanling where the Police Tactical Unit is also based.[1]


The establishment of the Special Duties Unit can be traced back to an incident on March 13, 1971, when a Philippine Airlines flight was hijacked and was forced to land at Kai Tak Airport. Though the incident was resolved peacefully, the Hong Kong Police Force became concerned that a similar incident would occur in the future. The Sharpshooter Team (神槍手隊) was assembled in April 1974 and later reorganised into the Special Duties Unit.[3]

The Special Duties Unit is modeled on and trained by the Special Air Service. In addition, Special Boat Service personnel assisted the SDU in developing its own marine counter-terrorist unit, the Water Team, (nicknamed: "Water Ghosts" 水鬼隊 ) after an incident in the early 1980s.[3] A Water Ghosts sniper named Tsang Kwong-biu was seriously injured while undergoing joint training with SEAL Team Six in 1991, during a ship-boarding exercise where he suffered from a 30 foot fall.[4] The Water Team was later disbanded in 2000, because all current officers of the Special Duties Unit are equally trained and proficient in maritime operations.

Up to now, the Special Duties Unit has not failed in any of its operations, earning it the reputation of being one of the world's finest in its role.[citation needed]


A base of operations located at Dyer Avenue, Hung Hom

The Special Duties Unit consists of a support group, administration group and the action group. The action group is the core of the Unit, further categorised into the assault team and the sniper team. The following units include:

  • Operation Team, which is divided into Team A and Team B, together with the sniper team. Team C is responsible for the training of Special Duties Unit officers.
  • The Medical Support Team, which consists of officers who are trained in battlefield first aid.
  • The headquarters, which is responsible for all administrative works, as well as providing intelligence to operations.
  • The boat team, which maintains and operates the Zodiac vessels. Recently several FB/RIB 55 series boats were purchased from FB Design in Italy to supplement the Zodiac vessels.
  • The maintenance team, which maintain all land vehicles as well as Asia's most advanced Close Quarter Battle House. Four Guardian Tactical Intervention Vehicles from Jankel Armouring Limited were purchased in 2007 and arrived in 2008, providing improved armoured protection for officers.

Selection and Training[edit]

To maintain the SDU's high standards, recruitment exercises are not open to the general public. To even qualify for recruitment, one must have a minimum of two years service in the Police Tactical Unit and complete training under the PTU,[5] and to be both a non-smoker and non-drinker. The selection process is very stringent, with a high drop-out rate of around 75%; only about 100 are selected to enlist in the SDU. The SDU's training program has been merged with the ASU recently to prevent potential candidates from dropping out from either unit.[6]

Originally the Special Duties Unit received much of their training from the Special Air Service and Special Boat Service. After about 15 years, the SDU took on its own training, mainly keeping with the techniques of their British special forces mentors, but also exchanging ideas and holding frequent training exercises with other similar units from around the world.

The officers in the unit maintain a high degree of secrecy and only the closest family members know their true identity.

The SDU does not enforce a retirement age, due to the unit's emphasis on overall personal capability rather than physical prowess alone; an officer only retires when he wishes to resign or has become incapable of fulfilling his duties.

Equipment & weapons[edit]

Hong Kong Police Force Mercedes-Benz Unimog U5000 armoured personnel carrier
Hong Kong Police Force Mercedes-Benz Unimog U5000 armoured personnel carrier

The Special Duties Unit has been known to be armed or formerly armed with the following weapons and equipment:
MSA MICH2000, 2001, 2002 Helemt (2009-present)
LBA Defender (early90s-early00s)
PASGT Helmet (early90s-early00s)

S6 Gas Mask
Avon S10 Gas Mask

Avon SF10 Gas Mask

MSA Advantage1000 Gas Mask
Avon FM12 Gas Mask
Avon CT12 Gas Mask

Body Armour
PA System Highmark Tactical Vest(early90s-2005)
PA System Highmark Second Chance Vest(2000-2009)
BlackHawk! S.T.R.I.K.E. Oemga Vest (2009-2012)
Paraclete RMV (2012–present)

Smith & Wesson Model 10 (Early 1970s - late 1970s)
Browning Mk3 (Late 1970s - early 1990s)[7]
Glock 17with ITI M3 illustrator (Early 1990s - present)[7]

Submachine Guns
Sterling submachine gun (Early 1970s - late70s)
MP5 series(Early 1980s - present)(A3/A5/SD3/SD5/SD6/K/K-PDW/N) [7]

Assault Rifle
AR-15 (Early 1970s - early 1980s)
XM-177 (1982–2000)[7]
MC-51 (1992–1996)
M4A1 (2001–present)[7]
G36KV (2001–present)
M16A1/A2 (2001–present)
Steyr AUG A1 (2001–present)
SR-16 (2001–present)

Remington 870 (Early 1980s - present)[7]
Benelli M1 Super 90 (Early 1980s - present)

Sniper Rifles
G3SG-1 (Early 1980s - early 1990s)[7]
PSG-1 (Late 1980s - 2005)[7]
L42A1 (Early 1980s - 1990s)
L96A1 (Early 1990s - present)[7]
SR-25 (Late 1990s - present)[7]
SSG-3000 (Early 1990s - present)[7]


Known Operations[edit]

During a bank robbery in 1992, four robbers with AK-47 assault rifles and hand-grenades battled the SDU, resulting in 7 officers injured. As a result of this incident, their Close Quarters Battle techniques were further refined in order to fit Hong Kong's unique urban environment, and new equipment was added to the unit's arsenal. All suspects were apprehended.

Before Christmas Eve of 2003, Kwai Ping Hung, the most wanted person in Hong Kong, was arrested in a joint raid between the Special Duties Unit and Criminal Intelligence Bureau (Delta Team), (Hit Team) with no shots fired.

When the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference of 2005 was held in Hong Kong, the Special Duties Unit was deployed to protect World Trade Organisation delegates in Victoria City.[10]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]