SINGAPORE - A shipment of nine armoured vehicles belonging to the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has been seized in Hong Kong.
The Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles (ICVs) were discovered at Kwai Chung terminal during a routine inspection, news agency FactWire reported.
In response to media queries, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) confirmed in a statement that the Terrex vehicles and associated equipment were delayed at Hong Kong's Kwai Chung Container Terminal on Wed (Nov 23), due to a request for routine inspections by the Hong Kong Customs authorities.
"Singapore authorities are providing relevant assistance to the Hong Kong Customs and expect the shipment to return to Singapore. expeditiously," Mindef said.
"The Terrex ICVs were used by the SAF in routine overseas training and shipped back via commercial means as with previous exercises."
A Hong Kong government official who declined to be named told the South China Morning Post earlier that the consignment was en route to Singapore after an overseas training exercise. It is unknown why the vehicles were unloaded at Hong Kong.
The same source added that the vehicles could have been unloaded by mistake along with other general cargo. The armoured vehicles were wrapped in blue and grey covers and placed on container racks at the point of discovery, FactWire reported.
The commercial vessel transporting the vehicles was transiting in Hong Kong's territorial waters when it was intercepted, a source told FactWire.
The SAF is the sole operator of the 24-tonne Terrex vehicles, which is developed by local defence manufacturer Singapore Technologies (ST) Kinetics.
In March, ST Kinetics was awarded a US$121.5 million (S$173.84 million) contract to supply 13 Terrex 2 - an upgraded and heavier version of the Terrex - to the United States Marine Corps (USMC) for an evaluation phase.
The Terrex 2 beat industry heavyweights General Dynamics Land Systems, Lockheed Martin and Michigan-based Advanced Defence Vehicle Systems in the shortlist phase, and will vie against BAE Systems in the final phase.
According to DefenseNews.com, a winner will be selected in 2018 to deliver 204 next-generation Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) by 2020.