South Dakota’s Ellsworth Air Force Base (AFB) has been officially chosen as home for the first operational US Air Force B-21 Raider bombers.
Announced by the US Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC), the base will also host the formal training unit.
The selection process follows a thorough environmental impact analysis (EIA) that aligns with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
USAF 8th Air Force and Joint-Global Strike Operations Center (J-GSOC) commander major general Mark Weatherington said: “Since its humble beginnings as Rapid City Army Air Base in 1942 with a mission of training B-17 Flying Fortresses for missions in the European theatre, Ellsworth has continuously evolved into its current role of providing combat airpower, anytime, anywhere around the globe.
“Now home to three of the four original squadrons that participated in the historic Doolittle Raid, the rich heritage continues today with Ellsworth’s selection as the first main operating base for the B-21 ‘Raider’ bomber.”
The B-21 Raider was designed to replace USAF’s replace B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit aircraft as a ‘long-range, highly-survivable bomber’ that can carry mixed-conventional and nuclear payloads, and strike any global target.
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The B-1 Lancers will simultaneously continue their mission at Ellsworth AFB until the B-21 bombers achieve full operational capacity.
They will continue to provide long-range bomber support to the USAF.
The AFGSC noted that Whiteman AFB and Dyess AFB will also receive B-21s.
Weatherington added: “The Doolittle Raid proved there was no target out of reach for the United States, and the B-21 Raider will continue that legacy as the nation’s most advanced long-range aircraft capable of penetrating any enemy airspace with a diverse set of weapons.”