U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), and Gov. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) today issued the following statements after the U.S. Air Force announced that Ellsworth Air Force Base has officially been selected to receive the new B-21 training and operational squadron, which means it will be the first of three bases nationwide to host the B-21 bomber in its fleet. Infrastructure spending will begin in fiscal year 2021.
“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,” said Thune. “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!”
“Today’s announcement that Ellsworth Air Force Base will be home to the B-21 Formal Training Unit and be the first base to receive an operational squadron of B-21 Raider bombers is great news for South Dakota and for our national defense,” said Rounds. “It reaffirms the vital role Ellsworth will play in our defense strategy for years to come. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I will continue working closely with the Air Force and the Ellsworth community to assure a seamless process.”
“This is a big day for South Dakota,” said Johnson. “The B-21 will be the most advanced bomber in the history of the world, and Ellsworth will be its first home. This mission will bring hundreds of new jobs to South Dakota. More importantly, it will maintain our state’s place at the forefront of keeping our nation safe. Time and time again, Ellsworth has proven itself, and the B-21 is further evidence of that.”
“This announcement is the culmination of years and years of coordinated effort at the federal, state and local level,” said Noem. “In 14 years, we’ve gone from the BRAC list to new bombers. Senator Thune deserves special praise for his focus on enhancing Ellsworth including his leadership in expanding the Powder River Training Area. I look forward to continuing that partnership between the local, state and federal government as we integrate this new mission into Ellsworth and these new Airmen and women into western South Dakota.”