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Officials unveil stealth bomber set to call Ellsworth home

B21 bomber.jpg
Staff Sgt. Jeremy Mosier
U.S. Air Force
The B-21 Raider was unveiled to the public at a ceremony Dec. 2, 2022 in Palmdale, Calif.

The U.S. Air Force unveiled the next-generation bomber that will one day call Ellsworth Air Force base its home.

The B-21 Raider is a stealth plane military officials call “the next evolution of the Air Force strategic bomber fleet.”

Ellsworth Air Force Base in Box Elder will serve as an operational base and training location for the bomber, though bases in Texas and Missouri will also one day station B-21s.

South Dakota congressmen Dusty Johnson and Mike Rounds were among the dignitaries attending an unveiling ceremony Friday in Palmdale, Calif.

“This is a really great day for Ellsworth Air Force, which will be the home of not only the training squadrons but also the first operational squadrons as well," Round said. "We look forward to welcoming the B-21 stealth bomber and its support teams in the near future.”

The ceremony was the public’s first glimpse of the bomber. Only artist renderings had been released previously.

The Air Force selected Ellsworth as a base for the B-21 in 2021. It will replace the B-1 bombers currently stationed at the base.

“The unveiling of the B-21 was a proud moment for our country, our defense community, and South Dakota,” Johnson said. “It won’t be long until Ellsworth Air Force Base is the ‘Home of the Raider’ – it took a lot of hard work from the delegation to get to this point, and I’m confident it will be an asset to the West River community and our military."

Northrop Grumman Corp. is building the aircraft. There are reportedly six planes currently in production. Officials expect the first test flights to happen sometime in 2023.

Johnson Rounds b21.jpg
Courtesy Rep. Johnson's office
Johnson (right), Rounds (left) attend the B-21 unveiling in Palmdale, Calif. on Dec. 2.

Josh Chilson is the news director at South Dakota Public Broadcasting. A Florence, S.D. native, Josh graduated with a journalism degree from South Dakota State University. He has worked as as a newspaper reporter and videographer, and most recently as managing editor for Dakota News Now. Josh is based out of SDPB's Sioux Falls studio.