Ellsworth First to Get B-21 Bomber

The B-21 Raider's design is shown in an artist rendering. Air Force graphic.

Ellsworth AFB, S.D., is the preferred location to receive the first operational B-21 bomber and formal training unit beginning in the mid-2020s, the service announced Wednesday.

Whiteman AFB, Mo., and Dyess AFB, Texas, also are slated to receive B-21s “as they become available,” while Barksdale AFB, La., and Minot AFB, N.D., will continue to host the B-52 Stratofortress.

Ellsworth was chosen because it already “provides sufficient space and existing facilities necessary to accommodate simultaneous missions at the lowest cost and with minimal operational impact across all three bases,” states the release.

Though the B-52 is expected to stay in service through 2050, the service plans to phase out the B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit as the B-21 comes online.

“We are procuring the B-21 Raider as a long-range, highly-survivable aircraft capable of penetrating enemy airspace with a mix of weapons,” Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said in the release. “It is a central part of a penetrating joint team.”

The Air Force is expected to make final B-21 basing decisions in 2021, according to the release.