South Dakota’s Ellsworth Air Force base will be home to B-21 bomber

News Staff and The Associated PressJune 9, 2021News
courtesy/file photoSouth Dakota's Ellsworth base will be home to B-21 bomber

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota will be the home of the next-generation nuclear bomber, the B-21 Raider.

The U.S. Air Force plans to build and eventually operate over 100 of the stealth bombers, which are capable of launching nuclear strikes around the globe.

The aircraft will likely be housed at several Air Force bases, including locations in Texas and Missouri.

U.S. Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds say they heard from the Air Force Wednesday that it has officially made Ellsworth the bomber’s first operating base.

The announcement represents an economic boon for the western part of South Dakota.

“I am pleased that the U.S. Air Force has officially selected Ellsworth Air Force Base as the first home of the B-21 Raider bomber,” Round said.

“This landmark decision makes certain that South Dakota will continue to play a critical role in our national defense. The selection of Ellsworth is a testament to the hard work of our Air Force personnel on the ground at Ellsworth and the communities of Box Elder and Rapid City that have worked hard to improve the long-term suitability of the base for this new state-of-the-art aircraft.

“As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I’ve worked actively to secure full funding for the B-21 program being developed by Northrup Grumman for the Air Force. I can tell you that this is one of the most advanced weapon systems to ever be developed. The B-21 will help deter our adversaries, especially China, thanks to its long-range, speed, stealth and payload. This weapon system will play a crucial role in the defense of our nation and have a huge economic impact on the Rapid City area for the next 50 years.”

Senator John Thune says “South Dakotans know what an asset Ellsworth Air Force Base is to our state and our country, and today, we’re incredibly proud of this historic, once-in-a-generation opportunity to host the B-21 bomber.  It’s redeeming to still have Ellsworth at the forefront of our national defense when we were slated for closure 16 years ago. This mission will bring thousands of new airmen, spouses, and dependents to the base, spur hundreds of millions of dollars of construction activity in preparation for the stealth and nuclear mission, and drive increased economic development in the region. It’s an exciting time for Raider Country and everyone who’s worked so hard to make today possible.”

And, Congressman Dusty Johnson issued the following statement:

“This has been a long journey,” said Johnson. “We’ve felt good about our progress over the last few years, but now we can say without any hedging or hesitation: our nation’s first B-21 bombers will call Ellsworth home.”