Preparations are underway at the Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC) for the necessary infrastructure to support the B-21 Raider stealth bomber. In time, the Raider will replace both the B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit for both conventional and nuclear missions.
Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, has been named as the main operating base for the B-21. Pending the results of environmental impact studies, two more bases – Whiteman in Missouri and Dyess in Texas – could also house the aircraft. Each facility would be built to account for variances in weather and provide protection from the most extreme conditions. Ellsworth expects to take delivery of the first B-21s in the middle of the decade.
Plans are underway to build a prototype shelter for the plane at Ellsworth. The finalization process for the shelter be complete in five to 10 years.
“The installation of the prototype shelter will collect data necessary to identify the most effective and affordable … design for facilities to extend the life of the new aircraft and protect maintainers working on the aircraft on the flight line,” said Tom Hodges, mobility support branch chief at AFCEC.