Air Force officials have selected Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., to house the first operational B-21 Raider bomber and its formal training unit.
Officials also noted Whiteman AFB, Missouri, and Dyess AFB, Texas, will receive B-21s as they become available.
“These three bomber bases are well suited for the B-21,” Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said. “We expect the first B-21 Raider to be delivered beginning in the mid-2020s, with subsequent deliveries phased across all three bases.”
The decision to select Ellsworth AFB stems from the site providing sufficient space and the existing facilities necessary to accommodate simultaneous missions at the lowest cost and with minimal operational impact across all three bases, per officials, who added the Air Force will incrementally retire existing B-1 Lancers and B-2 Spirits when a sufficient number of B-21s are delivered.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) offered effusive praise to Air Force personnel for the decision.
“We are absolutely thrilled to hear the news from Secretary Wilson that the B-21 training squadron is coming to Ellsworth Air Force Base in Rapid City, South Dakota,” Thune said. “This is a huge opportunity for the Air Force and a huge opportunity for South Dakota. We’ve known for some time what a wonderful asset Ellsworth Air Force Base is. We’ve worked to expand the availability of training range there, and it’s now become indispensable to the Air Force. We are looking forward to the mission – to hosting the B-21s. We will continue to work hard to ensure that Ellsworth Air Force Base is an important asset to our national security mission and serves our military as it always has with a great distinction. So, welcome to South Dakota!”