Special Duties Unit: Wikis


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Special Duties Unit (SDU)
Active July 1963- Present
Country  Hong Kong
Branch Hong Kong Police Force
Type Special Forces
Role Domestic Counter-Terrorism and Law Enforcement
Size No official figures,
estimated at 120+
Part of Police Tactical Unit
Nickname Fei Foo Dui (飛虎隊) or Flying Tigers
Engagements Various anti-crime operations
Peter Yam Tat-wing (任達榮)
SDU Patch.jpg

The Special Duties Unit (Abbreviation: SDU; Chinese: 特別任務連, nicknamed Flying Tigers 飛虎隊) is an elite paramilitary police unit of the Hong Kong Police. Established in July 1974, it is a sub-division of the Police Tactical Unit (PTU).[1] Its primary functions include counter-terrorism, anti-narcotic raids, hostage rescue and other crimes (usually involving firearms) which are deemed too dangerous for local police to handle. The unit holds regular training exercises with similar units from around the world and used to be trained by the British SAS before the handover of Hong Kong to China.


Origins & history

The arm-patch of the SDU, pre-'97. Note the "Royal" pre-fix.

The establishment of SDU can be traced back to an incident on March 13, 1971, when a plane from Philippine Airlines was hijacked and landed in 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.[2] A "marksmen squad" (神槍手隊) was assembled in 1973 and later reorganized into the Special Duties Unit in 1974.[3]

The unit is modeled after the British SAS. When SAS personnel came to Hong Kong in 1978 to refine their CQB techniques as well as training syllabus, SDU received their training from the SAS.[2][4][3]

Reports of a proposal to slash down salaries of SDU operators were shot down in a press conference to disprove the said reports, saying that the people "can rest assured that the high level of anti-terrorist capability and readiness will always be maintained."[5]


It consists of a support group, administration group and the action group. The action group is the core of the unit, further categorised into the land assault team, the water assault team and the sniper team.

The following units include:[2]

  • Operation Team, which is divided into Team A and Team B, together with the Sniper team. Team C is responsible for the training of SDU officers.
  • The medical team, which consists of SDU officers with special trainings on battlefield first aids.
  • The headquarter, which is responsible for all administrative works, as well as providing intelligences to the operations.
  • The boat team, which maintains and operate the Zodiac vessels. The Zodiac vessels are also used by the US Navy SEAL Special Operation Force. 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 the Asia's most advanced Close Quarter Battle (CQB) House. Four Guardian Tactical Intervention Vehicles from Jankel Armouring Limited were purchased in 2007 and arrived in 2008, providing improved armor protection for operators during high-risk operations.
  • special duties paramedics - introduced in 2000

The SDU Water Team

British SBS operators also helped SDU develop its own specialist marine attack unit (known as the Marine Counter Terrorist Team; nicknamed: 水鬼隊 "Water Ghosts") after an incident in the early 1980s.[3] Due to its highly specialist nature, the Marine Counter Terrorist Team has often been compared with the United States Navy SEALs. An SDU sniper in the team was seriously injured when having joint training with SEAL Team 6 in 1991, during a ship-boarding exercise.

The Marine Counter Terrorist Team was later disbanded in 2000, because all current SDU operators are equally trained and proficient in maritime operations.

Training & Selection

To maintain the SDU's high standards, recruitment exercises are not open to the general public. To even qualify for the recruitment, one must have a minimum two years service in the Police Tactical Unit and complete training under the PTU,[6] and to be both a non-smoker and non-drinker. The selection process is very stringent, with a high drop-out rate; only about 100 are selected to enlist in the SDU. Contrary to popular belief, the unit does not train with mainland China special forces. The SDU's training program has been merged with the ASU recently to prevent potential candidates from dropping out from either unit.[7]

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

Interestingly, 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.

At their retirement, they are paid a lump sum of Hong Kong dollar (HK) $2,000,000 and would still receive a monthly pension thereafter. SDU operators had conducted training exercises with foreign special forces units, including the Navy SEALs, Delta Force, STAR, GIGN, SBS and the British SAS.[6]

Equipment & weapons

The SDU has been known to be armed/formerly armed with the following weapons and equipment:[8][9]

S&W M10 (Early 70s - late 70s)
Browning Mk3 (Late 70s - early 90s)
Glock 17 (Early 90s - present)

Submachine Guns
Sterling submachine gun (Early 70s - late70s)
MP5A3 (Early 80s - present)
MP5A5 (Early 80s - present)
MP5SD3 (Early 80s - present)

Assault Rifle
AR-15 (Early 70s - early 80s)
XM-177 (1982 - 2000)
MC-51 (1992 - 1996)
M-4 (2001 - present, as medium range sniper rifle)
G-36KV (2001 - present, as medium range sniper rifle)

Remington 870 (Early 80s - present)
Benelli M1 Super 90 (Early 80s - present)

Sniper Rifles
G3SG-1 (Early 80s - early 90s)
PSG-1 (Late 80s - 2005)
L42A1 (Early 80s - 90s)
L96A1 (Early 90s - present)
SR-25 (Late 90s - present)
SSG-2000 (Early 90s - present)

Known Operations

During a robbery in 1992, four robbers with AK-47 assault rifles battled the SDU, resulting in 7 operatives injured.[2] As a result of this incident, their CQB technique was further refined in order to fit Hong Kong's unique urban environment, and new equipment was added to the SDU's arsenal.[2] 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 SDU and Criminal Intelligence Branch (CIB, Team D) with no gunshots being reported.[10]

When the WTO Ministerial Conference of 2005 was held in Hong Kong, the SDU was deployed to protect WTO delegates in the country.[11]

SDU in Popular Culture

Similar to the LAPD SWAT team, the unit is known for their numerous fictional appearances in TV shows and movies in Hong Kong.

  • The SDU appear in Stephen Chow's Fight Back To School trilogy. The first time Stephen Chow's character is participating in a SDU training program, the second movie the SDU appear to eliminate European/American terrorists in a hostage situation in a international school.
  • The SDU appear in Hard Boiled, but in few numbers to help Inspector Tequila Yuen remedy a large hospital hostage situation.
  • The SDU made an appearance in a computer game, in the last mission of Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear: Urban Operations, but have been already gunned down by the time the Rainbow team reaches them. There are also numerous reference to the Flying Tigers nickname in the neon-signs throughout the level.
  • The SDU also appear in Dante Lam's Hit Team (2001). However these particular operatives have gone rogue and are portrayed as the main anti heroes of the film.
  • The SDU are a playable Counter Terrorist team from downloading their skins from Counter Strike source in the 2003 game Counter Strike.
  • The SDU was recently realistically portrayed in Breaking News. However, they were made famous in Hong Kong cinema from the Final Option, First Option and New Option series of movies starring Michael Wong as the brash troop leader of a SDU platoon.
  • The SDU were also featured in the highly popular and multiple award winning Benny Chan film, New Police Story, featuring Jackie Chan and Nicholas Tse. The SDU were referenced multiple times throughout the film and appeared in force near the end of the film during the final confrontation scene.
  • The SDU appear in large numbers in Invisible Target to assist in taking down the Ronin gang.
  • In the video game Rainbow Six Vegas 2 it is possible to design an SDU like Rainbow Six operative.
  • The SDU made a recent appearance in Dante Lam's 2009 action film The Sniper either as backup or as support for the Sniper situation scenes.


See also

External links


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