B-21 Raider unveiled as Ellsworth Air Force base prepares to welcome squadrons to South Dakota

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Published: Dec. 4, 2022 at 7:26 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -After the groundbreaking ceremony last may to make way for a new squadron at Ellsworth Airforce base, the day of the unveiling of the new B-21 Raider took place Friday.

Senator Mike Rounds was in California for the reveal.

“Finally be able to show, for the public, the new B-21 Raider,” said Rounds.

Two squadrons will launch the program at Ellsworth Airforce Base, the training squadron and the first operational squadron.

“And then we’ve had really good news recently because the night squadron that would be designated would probably come back to Ellsworth as well,” said Rounds.

The B-21 has more to offer than its predecessors, according to Doug Ware of the Stars and Stripes publication.

“Significantly the first new bomber that the United States has produced in the 21st century. That’s why it’s called the B-21. It’s also named after the Doolittle Raiders of World War Two. It has a global reach that can fly long distances,” said Ware.

It’s a large financial investment.

“All told, over the next six years, the Air Force expects to spend about 32 billion in development and procurement,” said Ware.

Tom Johnson, CEO, and President of Elevate Rapid City, says Rapid City is already growing by as much as 3,000 people annually. On top of that, more will come to western South Dakota because of the B-21.

“Conservatively, this project is going to mean a matter of 1,500 to 1600 jobs, and likely another four to 5000 in population,” said Johnson.

And that means exciting growth around Ellsworth Airforce Base and the Rapid City Area.

“More retail, more stores, more options for restaurants and grocery. It’s also going to be challenges for us around housing and infrastructure and traffic,” said Johnson.

But they’re up for the task, knowing the next level of stealth aircraft is good for everyone.

“It’s a win for the Governor. It’s a win for our Nation. It’s a win for Rapid City, it’s a win for South Dakota, and we really are honored about it.