Officials with the United States Air Force say Ellsworth Air Force Base is included in the future plans for bomber aircraft.
Colonel John Edwards is the commander of the 28th Bomb Wing based at Ellsworth. He says Monday's release of what's called the bomber vector puts Ellsworth in line to receive the new B-21 Raiders.
"This is a great base. We look forward to being a part of the future bomber mission. And, as the Secretary of the Air Force has said if you're a bomber base right now, with the proper Congressional support, we plan to be a bomber base well into the future. And, that's good news for the community and for the State of South Dakota," Edwards says.
The B-21 Raiders are expected to join the Air Force fleet in the mid-2020s. Edwards says once the new bombers gradually come online, the military will start to retire the current B-1 aircraft. He says 27 B-1 bombers are currently in service at Ellsworth. Edwards says the number of Raider planes coming to the base has not been determined yet. He says the long-term vector study completed by the Air Force considers the type and number of bombers needed to ensure the United States can conduct long-range strikes and effectively defend the homeland. Edwards says the plan stretches out to the year 2050. The news has been lauded by Congresswoman Kristi Noem and Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender. Noem says South Dakota is ready to host the new B-21 bombers. Allender says he is greatly encouraged by the announcement.