The Air Defense Missile Command is to be merged with the air force next month, a move expected to enhance and streamline the nation’s air defense command system.
The merger is to take effect on Wednesday — with command, now under the management of the Ministry of National Defense’s General Staff Headquarters — to be put under the purview of the air force, military sources said.
With Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile systems, Tien Kung III surface-to-air missile systems and Hawk anti-aircraft missiles, the command is responsible for medium-to-long-range air defense and controls tactical weapons, such as Hsiung Feng IIE cruise missiles.
The command is reportedly to merge with the Air Defense Artillery Command by the end of the year to streamline the chain of command and augment operational efficiency.
The Air Defense Artillery Command has the “Skyguard” short-range air defense system — with AIM-7 Sparrow surface-to-air missiles — and the Antelope air defense system with batteries of Tien Chien-I missiles.
To counter China’s advanced missile threat, the command is to become a top military unit akin to the three branches of the military. The Air Defense Missile Command is a brigade-level unit led by a major general. Following the merger, it will be a corps-level unit led by a lieutenant general.
The reorganization and merger are to counter China’s deployment of more than 1,400 missiles against Taiwan and are in response to a doctrinal shift in the nation’s defense strategy from “effective deterrence” to “multiple deterrence.”
The merger is the latest in a series of missile unit reorganizations.
The ministry established the first missile batteries in 1959 under the army when the government acquired the US-made Nike-Hercules surface-to-air missile. The missile command was established in 1979.
In 2004, the ministry merged the navy’s Hai Feng Shore Based Anti-ship Missile Squadron with the missile command and put it under the ministry’s General Staff Headquarters.
In 2006, the Hai Feng squadron was returned to the navy and the missile command’s air defense troops were transferred to the air force.
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