Six new anti-riot armoured vehicles from mainland China are set to hit the roads in Hong Kong next month ahead of the 25th anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese rule on July 1. The bullet-and-explosion-proof model, dubbed “Saber-toothed tiger”, is used by mainland police. The six new vehicles would replace the existing three armoured trucks that had been in service since 2009, police said on Wednesday, adding they had been planning for the procurement since 2018. The current three Mercedes-Benz Unimog U5000 armoured trucks were often deployed to handle violent clashes during the anti-government protests in 2019. A police spokesman said the new fleet was manufactured on the mainland and tested by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department last month. “They were handed over to police in May for internal training. The ‘Saber-toothed tigers’ will be put into operation in June,” the statement read. “The new vehicles are equipped with multiple launchers for firing various types of less-lethal ammunition. Advanced recording systems were also installed.” A police insider said the new armoured cars would be on standby to prepare for the worst during the handover anniversary, when state leaders were likely to be present. The procurement of the six vehicles was bundled in the city’s 2020-2021 budget with HK$76.65 million (US$9.76 million) allocated. The tendering process was completed in October 2021. Though authorities did not reveal the features of the trucks, mainland police had showcased the same anti-riot vehicle model during a police open day in Hangzhou in 2015. Mainland authorities had said at the time the heavily modified and armoured Ford F-550 Super Duty truck adopted a military bulletproof design and could defend against AK74 and M16 rifle attacks. Mainland media reported that each vehicle was fitted with three gun ports on each side and a machine gun on the roof. Pertinent features included smoke or tear gas grenade launchers, a long-range acoustic crowd dispersal device, searchlights, a speaker system, an electric winch and an infrared and night-vision camera system. According to mainland authorities, the truck has a V10 engine and can reach a top speed of 130km/h. Even if all four wheels are punctured, it can still travel up to 80km. The “Saber-toothed tiger” is 6.7-metres long, 2.36-metres wide and 3-metres high. Each truck, which weighs nine tonnes and costs about 2 million yuan (US$298,830), can accommodate 10 officers. The six new additions are now stationed at the headquarters of the Police Tactical Unit in Fanling for training. The force said most law enforcement agencies around the world used armoured carriers during periods of unrest, and also for anti-terrorism work. As the current Unimog models had been in service since March 2009, wear and tear had accelerated after they were frequently mobilised between 2019 and 2020, the force added. When police and protesters clashed during the siege of Polytechnic University in November 2019, one of the Unimogs burst into flames after being hit by petrol bombs thrown by demonstrators.