SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The new B-21 Raider was unveiled in Palmdale, California, Friday night. Sen. Mike Rounds and Rep. Dusty Johnson were both there for the debut.
Rounds and Johnson say the B-21s will be the most advanced piece of technology ever developed for the defense of the United States. The first two squadrons for the stealth bomber will be located at Ellsworth Air Force base in Box Elder.
Rounds says he’s seen the B-21 Raider on several occasions as it’s been developed. The unveiling of the sixth generation bomber was a major milestone.
“It is the first of its kind. It is probably the most advanced aircraft that the United States has ever developed, and so very exciting for a lot of people that have been involved in its development, and a real opportunity for the public to get a glimpse as to what our technological capabilities are when we put our minds to it,” Rounds said.
Johnson says its predecessor, the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, was unveiled 34 years ago.
“This thing has served its country well. Now the B-1, not this aircraft, but the B-1 has been at Ellsworth. The B-21 over time will replace the B-1 platform. We’re going to be the training squadron. The first B-21s to ever fly are going to be based on Ellsworth. It’s going to be incredible for this country,” Johnson said in a video sent to KELOLAND News.
Rounds says if it weren’t for the leadership of people in the Rapid City Area and Ellsworth AFB, this would not be possible.
“Ellsworth Air Force Base will be the home for this aircraft for 50 years, so it not only says that Ellsworth will be around for an extended period of time, but the airmen that come will be here. A number of them will stay and retire here. You’ll have the contractors who will have to work and maintain the different systems will come in,” Rounds said.
Rounds says the bomber is important for the defense of the United States against other countries, specifically China.
“We have to make sure that they understand that if they are questioning at all our commitment to our national security, and if they think that we are at all questioning our commitment to our allies in the South Pacific Region, they can be assured that this new platform, this new weapons system, is one that they will have to reckon with,” he said.
“At the heart of American military policy, defense policy, is deterrence. Is telling the bad guys that the cost of their aggression is going to be worse than the benefits that their aggression ever could be,” Johnson said.
The aircraft is set to take its first flight next year, but Rounds says when they will arrive at Ellsworth Air Force Base is classified. He added that if purchases go on as scheduled over the next several decades, Ellsworth will be home to three squadrons of the B-21s.
More of the B-21s are expected to be stationed at bases in Texas and Missouri.