Public to get first look at new Air Force bomber
The B-21 Raider’s first home will be Ellsworth Air Force Base.
RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - The Air Force’s newest bomber, the B-21 Raider, will be shown to the public for the first time in December, according to a release from Sen. Mike Rounds.
“The B-21 Raider bomber will play a crucial role in the defense of our nation and have a major impact on the Rapid City area for the next 50 years,” said Rounds.
Rounds already had a glimpse of the bomber when he visited the production facility in July. The bomber makes its public debut in the first week of December in Palmdale, Calif.
Ellsworth Air Force Base will be the first installation to bed down the new bomber. The base is currently working on new facilities as well as repurposing existing buildings. The change in mission could bring about 1,500 more airmen and their families to the area, adding an estimated $20 million to the economy.
About 100 B-21s could be produced at a cost of $550 million each. Over time, the B-21 will replace the B-1s at not only Ellsworth but also Dyess AFB, Texas; and the B-2s at Whiteman AFB, Mo. The Air Force wants to have some B-21s in service sometime during the mid-2020s; with planned full retirement of B-1 and B-2 bombers for 2040. The B-52 is expected to stay in the Air Force inventory for several more decades.
Getting selected to be one of the main operating bases for the B-21 helps solidify the future of Ellsworth. In the past, the Department of Defense pursued the closure of Ellsworth, first in 1995 but more seriously in 2005 when the base was officially placed on the chopping block. However, after several hearings, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission determined the military was wrong, saving the base from closure.
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