Rep. Kristi Noem today praised U.S. Air Force plans stating that existing bomber bases, including Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City, will be bomber bases into the future as the new B-21 bomber comes online. Expected to arrive beginning in the mid-2020’s, the B-21 will eventually replace the B-1and B-2 bombers.

“When America needs a workhorse – when we need to flex our muscles and show our strength – when we need to respond to terrorists in the Middle East or deter a tyrannical North Korean dictator, we often turn to Ellsworth’s bomber fleet,” said Noem. “The B-1’s have served in a mission-critical role for decades, but it’s time to modernize. With the Powder River Training Complex in our backyard and a community of support surrounding the base, South Dakota is ready to support the B-21. I am thrilled the U.S. Air Force has committed to maintaining the mission-critical role existing bomber bases like Ellsworth will play into the future.”

Just months into Noem’s first term, an amendment was made on the House floor to delay the B-21’s development by a decade. Noem fought the amendment, and it was defeated. She has continued to protect the bomber’s development repeatedly in the years since, often supporting legislation that specifically expressed Congress’ support for building the aircraft.

In the 113th Congress, Noem served on the House Armed Services Committee, where she was a strong voice for the Air Force’s bomber fleets and the B-21 in particular.

As a means to improve military readiness, Noem served as a powerful advocate for the Powder River Training Complex’s expansion. Noem met repeatedly with top military, transportation, and aviation officials, and in March 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration finally approved the Air Force’s expansion plan. The airspace became effective in September 2015 and is the nation’s largest training complex. Moreover, by expanding the training facility near Ellsworth Air Force Base, the decision produced $23 million in fuel savings for the Air Force every year.

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