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B-21 Bomber to be unveiled in December

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Shown is a B-21 Raider artist's rendering graphic from the U.S. Air Force. The rendering highlights the future stealth bomber with Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., as the backdrop. The first B-21s will be assigned to Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City.

The B-21 Raider bomber will make its first public appearance in December, U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., announced Wednesday.

The stealth bomber will have a public unveiling in Palmdale, California in the first week of December, Rounds said in a news release.

Rounds, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, visited the production facility in Palmdale in July, reporting the project was on time and on budget. The timeline for when the bomber will arrive at Ellsworth Air Force Base remains fluid, with estimates in the mid-2020s.

Construction for the B-21 bed-down is already underway at Ellsworth, with a groundbreaking in May for the first low observable facility hangar, and 36 major construction projects attached overall.

Col. Joseph Sheffield, 28th Bomb Wing Commander at Ellsworth Air Force Base, said in August that six aircraft are currently on the production line, expecting the first flight within a year.

Ellsworth was first announced as the preferred location for the stealth bomber in March 2019, after being removed from the Department of Defense’s Base Realignment and Closure list. In June 2021, Ellsworth announced it would officially be the Air Force’s first base to receive the B-21.

Rounds helped secure full funding for the B-21 bomber program through the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 and 2022. Funding included construction at Ellsworth and continued B-21 development.

Following efforts to remove Ellsworth from the BRAC list, Rounds led a legislative effort to establish the South Dakota Ellsworth Development Authority. Now a permanent fixture, SDEDA’s mission is to protect, strengthen and promote the base.

“The B-21 Raider bomber will play a crucial role in the defense of our nation and have a major impact on the Rapid City area for the next 50 years,” Rounds said in the release. “I was pleased to see the progress on the B-21 when I visited the production facility in July. Soon the public will see this stealth bomber. I am looking forward to the public unveiling during the first week of December in Palmdale, California.”

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