ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – It’s official! Dyess Air Force Base has been selected to house both the new B-21 bomber aircraft and the weapons school for it.
Congressman Jodey Arrington made the announcement Wednesday, saying, “this decision not only secures the future of Dyess as a bomber base in the 21st Century, but it will also bring hundreds of new jobs and families to the Key City. Most importantly, it ensures the U.S. Air Force maintains air dominance into the future.”
The B-21 will replace the B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit aircraft. Dyess AFB will house both the operational test squadron and the weapons training school for the B-21.
“The Military Affairs Committee is proud to hear this announcement,” said Greg Blair, chair of the Military Affairs Committee of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce. “Members have worked long, and hard, for probably seven years, with a sharply honed target on today. MAC is dedicated to advocating for the missions of Dyess, its Airmen and their families.”
“The B-21 is the future of Dyess and Abilene. Today is a day to celebrate,” said Doug Peters, CEO and President of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce.
It’s unknown when exactly Dyess AFB will being their new B-21 training mission.
“Congratulations to Colonel Parker and our beloved airmen for always ‘aiming high’ and serving with honor and excellence,” said Rep. Arrington. “And, congratulations to Abilene for being our nation’s most supportive community to our airmen and their families.”
Dyess officials said the base is looking forward to the new B-21 Raider calling Dyess home.
Ellsworth AFB and Whiteman AFB were also selected as home for the B-21 Raider.
The road to officially obtain the B-21 at Dyess, specifically the training base and operational base, was a process years in the making.
The Abilene Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee (MAC) members, along with civic leaders and Big Country Congressman Jodey Arrington worked to promote Dyess as the best base for the B-21 for years.
In November 2017, 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 2017. “Abilene understands the Dyess mission, loves its airmen, and embraces the families at Dyess. History makes us smarter, heritage makes us proud.”
In 2017, 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 all but confirmed the news in recent interview with KTAB/KRBC.
“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.