“I always call Dyess a ‘crown jewel’ of West Texas, and today’s announcement gets us one step closer to cementing that jewel for the next generation, and beyond.” – Rep. Jodey Arrington
WASHINGTON (KTAB/KRBC) – Dyess Air Force Base has been officially selected for the placement of the B-21, according to the U.S. Air Force.
This marks the first time Dyess has been publicly identified as a contender for the new bomber. Dyess was named, along with Ellsworth AFB and Whiteman AFB.
Specifically, Dyess was named as a “reasonable alternative” until processes are completed.
“The Air Force selected Dyess Air Force Base, Texas; Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota; and Whiteman AFB, Missouri as reasonable alternatives to host the new B-21 aircraft,” read a statement from the Air Force.
Final decisions regarding the basing of the B-21 are expected to be made in 2019, following compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and other regulatory and planning processes.
The Air Force said it has not yet determined which location will receive the aircraft first.
The B-21 will replace the B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit aircraft.
“We are designing the B-21 Raider to replace our aging bombers as a long-range, highly-survivable aircraft capable of carrying mixed conventional and nuclear payloads, to strike any target worldwide,” said Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David L. Goldfein.
Air Force officials said using current bomber bases will minimize operational impact, reduce overhead, maximize re-use of facilities and minimize cost.
“Our current bomber bases are best suited for the B-21,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather A. Wilson. “We expect the first B-21 Raider aircraft to be delivered in the mid-2020s.”
Dyess is the current home of the B-1 bomber which is facing retirement.
“It is imperative that the Air Force continues to modernize its fleet,” said Col. Brandon
Parker, 7th Bomb Wing commander. “Air Force leadership has said current bomber bases will
remain bomber bases, and we are thrilled that Dyess is still in the running to receive this next
In February, the Air Force announced that current bomber bases would continue to be bomber bases, pending Congressional approval.
Rep. Jodey Arrington (TX-19) spoke first with KTAB/KRBC and said it’s a great day for Abilene and Dyess.
“This is a great day for the city of Abilene and the Big Country,”- Rep. Jodey Arrington
He also said he believed the community support of Dyess played a large role in the selection of Dyess.
“The community support from Abilene has been the most significant factor, I think, in putting Abilene and Dyess in a position to base the B-21,” Arrington said.
Arrington said he considers Dyess a ‘crown jewel’ of West Texas.
“The Airmen stationed at Dyess are well-aware of the critical importance of their mission, and their commitment and resolve in carrying it out has long been a point of pride for both their superiors in the Air Force and their neighbors in the city of Abilene. I always call Dyess a ‘crown jewel’ of West Texas, and today’s announcement gets us one step closer to cementing that jewel for the next generation, and beyond.”
“Dyess has proven for decades that it can serve as a bomber training base, and we look forward to doing so in the future,” said City of Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams.
Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn also praised Wednesday’s announcements.
“For decades, Dyess Air Force Base and the Abilene community have been a pillar of our nation’s strategic capabilities and deterrence,” Sen. Cruz said. “With today’s announcement that Dyess has been officially named as a candidate to host the B-21 bomber, Dyess is poised to remain at the forefront of our national security. This announcement is a testament to the incredible work our men and women in uniform accomplish there every day, as well as to the strong support from that community. The B-21 will be a critical enabler of promoting American interests, and will project American strength and deter aggression around the globe. I look forward to seeing this aircraft call Dyess home.”
“The exceptional airmen at Dyess have proven their ability time and again to produce combat-ready crews, and this will help them to further enhance Air Force readiness,” said Sen. Cornyn. “The fleet of B-21 Raiders will benefit not just the Abilene community, but also our national security for decades to come.”
Military Affairs Committee members of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce, along with civic leaders and Congressman Jodey Arrington worked to promote Dyess as the best base for the B-21.
In November, Abilene won the first Barksdale Trophy, in recognition of its support of Dyess.
“The partnership with Dyess goes back to 1953 with donated land to form Dyess AFB and the passion has grown stronger every day,” Bridwell said back in November. “Abilene understands the Dyess mission, loves its airmen, and embraces the families at Dyess. History makes us smarter, heritage makes us proud.”
In September, Rep. Mac Thornberry, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, visited Dyess, along with Rep. Arrington.
“He (Thornberry) was very impressed by the community and the folks at Dyess,” Arrington said.
Arrington said his conversations with top officials at the Air Force pointed directly at Dyess.
“All my discussions with the top brass at the Air Force have been very positive and I would say very forward-leaning about the B-21 being based here at Dyess,” Arrington said during an Abilene visit on Jan. 23, 2018.
The MAC was pushing Dyess as already being ready to house a bomber, since it already has the B-1.
“We have proven to be a very successful schoolhouse for the B-1, with our exceptional West Texas weather, close proximity to training routes, and un-congested airspace,” Bridwell said. “Dyess is a perfect home to the B-21 and potential B-21 training facility.”
Former Dyess Wing Commander Col. Michael Bob Starr said in Sept. 2017 that Dyess’ global extensions help qualify it to continue having a bomber.
“Of all the military installations in Texas, the only one where we can fight our nation’s enemies from Texas soil, is Dyess Air Force Base, because we have that bombing mission and I think that’s important,” Starr said.
According to the MAC, Dyess AFB has a more than $1 million impact on the Abilene region every day.