WASHINGTON, D.C. — The B-21 bomber will officially make its first home at Ellsworth Air Force Base in western South Dakota.
First announced in a statement from the office of Sen. Mike Rounds late on Wednesday, June 9, Rounds said he spoke with U.S. Air Force Global Strike Commander Gen. Timothy Ray who phoned the state's junior senator with the news that the 8,000-personnel air force base east of Rapid City -- and engine for the regional economy -- would secure the long-sought bomber.
"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 in a statement.
The Air Force previously said Ellsworth was slated as the first airfield to fly the B-21 Raider bomber, but that decision had yet to be formalized.
"This weapon system will play a crucial role in the defense of our nation and have a huge economic impact on the Rapid City area for the next 50 years," said Rounds, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in a statement.
The state's federal delegation also quickly weighed in on the news, with Rep. Dusty Johnson noting the decision capped "a long journey" and Sen. John Thune toasting the "perseverance" of the base, noting Ellsworth had faced closure in 2005 due to budget cuts at the Department of Defense.
"This exciting news is a great tribute to the hard work and diligence of everyone at Ellsworth AFB & across the Black Hills region," Thune said in a Tweet.
Built by defense contractor Northrop Grumman, the long range strike bomber is equipped with stealth technology and the nation's first new bomber in over three decades.
According to media reports, the bomber will be available for service within five years.
Ellsworth Air Force base, located in Box Elder, South Dakota, is home to the 28th Bomb Wing. The base serves as wing for the B-1 Lancer, a Cold War-era heavy bomber.