ELLSWORTH AIRFORCE BASE, S.D. -- Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Air Force, the state of South Dakota, and industry partners gathered, May 25, 2022, to conduct an official groundbreaking ceremony for the start of the B-21 “Raider” bomber beddown at Ellsworth Air Force Base.
This historic building endeavor is the first awarded B-21 military construction project Air Force-wide and will provide a Low Observable Restoration Facility with “paint booth” type functionality in support of B-21 weapons system maintenance and operations. The project also includes airfield paving, utilities, and other supporting components and infrastructure. The LOR Facility is the first of many possible projects being considered for successful delivery of the B-21 weapons system to Ellsworth Air Force Base.
The B-21 Raider will be a dual-capable penetrating strike stealth bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. The B-21 will be the backbone of the future Air Force bomber force consisting of B-21 and B-52 aircraft. Designed to operate in tomorrow’s high-end threat environment, the B-21 will play a critical role in ensuring America’s enduring airpower capability.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, awarded the $131.8 million construction contract on Sept. 17, 2021, to Walsh Federal LLC, and the project has been conducting preconstruction, mobilization, demolition, and site preparation activities since then. Excavation and new construction are slated to increase this spring and summer.
“This is the first of many projects to facilitate the B-21 beddown here at Ellsworth and it’s the first B-21 military construction project being built in the United States,” USACE B-21 Program Manager, Andrew Temeyer, said. “The B-21 program is incredibly important for the Air Force and the nation as a whole.”
The groundbreaking ceremony was organized by Ellsworth Air Force Base, and General Anthony Cotton, Commander, Air Force Global Strike Command, provided the keynote address. The event was attended by USACE Northwestern Division Commander, Col. (promotable) Geoff Van Epps, Omaha District Commander, Col. Mark Himes, S.D. Representative Dusty Johnson, delegations from both S.D. senators, state and local government, local media, Air Force stakeholders, and many industry partners.
“This is the first construction project in a multi-billion-dollar program that the Corps is going to execute over the next decade or so,” USACE Northwestern Division Commander, Col. Geoff Van Epps, said. “In doing so, (the B-21 program) will improve and modernize the national defense and security of our nation.”
The B-21 Raider is named in honor of the historic Doolittle Raiders, U.S. Army and Air Force Servicemembers who conducted the infamous surprise air raid against Japan during World War II on April 18, 1942, and forced the Japanese to recall combat forces for home defense. This boosted morale among Americans and U.S. Allies abroad. The designation B-21 recognizes the Raider as the first bomber of the 21st century.