Air Defense, Tactical Air Command (ADTAC) was a Named Unit of the United States Air Force, and operated at the Numbered Air Force echelon of Tactical Air Command. It was responsible for the air defense of the United States, and was last stationed at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. It was last assigned to Tactical Air Command, and was inactivated on 6 December 1985.
ADTAC was established when the Aerospace Defense Command (ADCOM) was inactivated as a Major Command on 1 October 1979. Aerospace Defense Command's atmospheric defense resources (interceptors, warning radars, and associated bases and personnel) were subsequently transferred to ADTAC. The command was, essentially, a transition organization between the Aerospace Defense Command, and the transfer of the air defense mission from the USAF to the Air National Guard in 1990.
It consisted of over 25,000 military and civilian personnel performing duty at radar sites, missile warning stations, fighter interceptor bases, satellite tracking centers, and command and control centers throughout the world. The command had the responsibility to provide operationally ready interceptor aircraft and aircrews for air defense alert 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. These assets had to be capable of scrambling to identify and assist or engage unidentified or hostile airborne objects approaching or entering United States airspace without proper approval. These scrambles were initiated from the respective region headquarters based on information derived from radar site data and previously known or expected airborne traffic. During increased states of readiness, these same ADTAC assets would provide additional air defense forces to CINCNORAD to provide early warning information, attack assessment, and air defense of North America. During peacetime operations, the mission of ADTAC was to command, train, manage, and evaluate forces required for the above-mentioned air defense contingencies. In doing so, the tasks of preparing budget proposals, acquiring equipment, and providing support requirements, were essential to providing ready air defense forces.
Interceptor aircraft transferred to ADTAC during the reorganization consisted of F-101 Voodoo, F-106 Delta Dart, and F-4 Phantom II fighters. The F-101 was the oldest and was possessed by three Air National Guard units, plus the Air Defense Weapons Center at Tyndall AFB. The F-101s at Tyndall were used mainly as simulated target aircraft employing electronic counter measures (ECM) and for towing targets for testing and training. Due to its age and problems in supporting the F-101, it was soon deleted from the inventory. By the fall of 1982, all F-101s, including those at Tyndall, had been retired; and, except for those at Tyndall, had been replaced by the F-4 Phantom II. The F-4 and F-106 remained in the interceptor inventory. The F-4 was possessed by Air National Guard squadrons and the 57th Fighter Interceptor Squadron in Iceland. The F-106 was possessed by Air Force and Air Guard squadrons. Modification of the F-106 through the years had improved its fire control system in an attempt to keep it up-to-date, but did not update its armament except for the addition of a gun. TAC planned the eventual conversion of all the Air Force F-106 squadrons to the F-15 Eagle and F-4 units to the F-16 Fighting Falcon Air Defense Fighter (ADF) variant. The two squadrons of EB-57 Canberra aircraft transferred to ADTAC were retired from the inventory by 1983. These aircraft were previously used for target training missions and electronic countermeasure training.
Both active-duty and Air National Guard squadrons under state control were administratively assigned to TAC though their state ANG control for the air defense mission. On 9 December 1985 these ADTAC Air Division units were placed under the newly activated First Air Force at Langley AFB, VA, which later moved to Tyndall AFB, FL in 1991. This arrangement remained in effect until the last F-106 was retired by the 177th FIG of the New Jersey Air National Guard and all Regular Air Force and ANG F-101 and F-106 units had transitioned to either the F-4, the F-15 or the F-16.
The Air Defense Weapons Center at Tyndall AFB, Florida was reorganized and a new organization was activated, the 325th Fighter Weapons Wing (FWW). The 325th FWW, through its subordinate units, conducted an extensive training program for air defense aircrews and weapons controllers; the USAF Interceptor Weapons School (IWS) trained instructors in all phases of interceptor weapons systems and employment. F-106 training was conducted by the 2d Fighter Interceptor Training Squadron (FITS). This unit was re-designated the 2d Fighter Weapons Squadron (FWS) on 1 February 1982. The 2nd FWS's mission continued to be F-106 training with plans to convert to the F-15 Eagle starting in the fall of 1983. All continental USAF sub-scale and full-scale drone aerial target operations were consolidated in the 82d Tactical Aerial Targets Squadron (TATS) of the 475th Weapons Evaluation Group (WEG). The Weapons Center's drone facilities, proximity to the Gulf of Mexico air-to-air gunnery ranges, and experienced personnel, made it compatible with many of TAC's training programs.