Fighting for Ellsworth Air Force Base (AFB)

America’s national security is Sen. Thune’s number one priority

Sen. Thune works hard to ensure South Dakota maintains its strategic advantage in supporting our national defense.

Highlights of Sen. Thune’s Commitment to Ellsworth AFB:

  • Ellsworth Removed From Base Realignment and Closure List:
    • Sen. Thune kept Ellsworth from closing by convincing the Air Force that the majority of our B-1 bombers should remain at Ellsworth due to its strategic location.
    • Ellsworth is the second largest employer in South Dakota, contributing $318 million annually to the local economy.
  • Helped Secure Drone Missions Piloted From Ellsworth:
    • Ellsworth became a multi-mission base with the arrival of the control stations for the MQ-9 Reapers, unmanned aerial vehicles also referred to as drones.
    • The MQ-9 mission makes Ellsworth a leader in advanced, unmanned technology and brings hundreds of new personnel to South Dakota, which increases the size of the Ellsworth community to over 8,000 people.
  • Championed Expansion of the Powder River Training Complex (PRTC):
    • Increased the training airspace for the B-1B bombers at Ellsworth, which now oversees the largest training airspace in the continental United States.
    • The PRTC saves Ellsworth $23 million per year in training costs, which is money that can be used to make improvements to the base.
    • As chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Sen. Thune guided the decision by the FAA and Air Force to work jointly on the expansion of the PRTC, accelerating its completion.
    • The PRTC is not only good for the B-1s in South Dakota, but it also brings other aircraft from across the nation to train at Ellsworth.