U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) issued the following statement after the U.S. Air Force announced that Ellsworth Air Force Base has been selected as one of three reasonable alternatives for B-21 bases across the country. The Air Force hopes to have a fleet of 100 or more aircraft and intends to maintain three main operational bases beginning in the mid-2020s. In addition to Ellsworth, Whiteman and Dyess Air Force Bases were selected as reasonable alternatives.
“Today’s great news confirms the Air Force’s intent to base B-21s at Ellsworth,” said Thune. “The B-1s are a proven workhorse, but evolving threats will require a modernized bomber force. Ellsworth remains well-positioned for the B-21 mission, especially with close access to the expanded Powder River Training Complex, which will be essential for meeting the training needs of these fifth generation aircraft. I am proud that South Dakota will continue to host this strike capability in support of our national defense strategy and the airmen who support it.”Thune played an integral role in not only keeping Ellsworth off of the Base Realignment and Closure list more than a decade ago, but he also helped secure the expansion of the Powder River Training Complex, which increased the training air space at Ellsworth and made it the largest training airspace in the continental United States.