PENNINGTON COUNTY, S.D. (KELO) — The United States Air Force announced Wednesday afternoon that Ellsworth Air Force Base located near Rapid City will be the official home to the B-21 Raider, the U.S. military’s newest nuclear-capable long-range stealth bomber.
The B-21, being built by U.S. defense contractor Northrop Grumman, will be capable of carrying a mix of conventional and nuclear ordnance.
South Dakota Senator John Thune said this decision will mean a lot of future growth coming for Ellsworth Air Force Base. When the B-21 project is fully running, there will be an additional 3,000 personnel coming to the base, along with their families.
“In regards to the surrounding area, Box Elder and Rapid City, it’s a huge economic impact. They’ll be needs for housing clearly, need for additional expansion when it comes to schools out there,” Senator Thune said. “If you look at direct construction on the base itself, you’re talking several hundreds of millions of dollars.”
In a statement Wednesday following the announcement, Senator Mike Rounds said that the decision was officially announced on a call with Air Force Global Strike Commander General Timothy Ray.
“I am pleased that the U.S. Air Force has officially selected Ellsworth Air Force Base as the first home of the B-21 Raider bomber,” Rounds said. “This landmark decision makes certain that South Dakota will continue to play a critical role in our national defense. The selection of Ellsworth is a testament to the hard work of our Air Force personnel on the ground at Ellsworth and the communities of Box Elder and Rapid City that have worked hard to improve the long-term suitability of the base for this new state-of-the-art aircraft.”
Other bases considered to host the B-21 are Dyess AFB in Texas and Whiteman AFB in Missouri.