Abilene to host two B-21 squadrons, additional missions
ABILENE, Texas – Pentagon officials today announced Dyess Air Force Base will be the home of the weapons training and operational testing and evaluation squadrons for the new-generation B-21 Raider bomber.
“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.”
Dyess and its Airmen have proven their superiority in executing a long-range strike mission for more than six decades, starting with the B-52, and adding the B-1B Lancer in 1985. The new mission of the B-21 just continues this heritage of fine airmen answering their nation’s call at Dyess.
“From the wide-open skies with 360 days of great flying weather to exceptional military members and civilians providing the training and back-shop support to aircraft and simulators, the Pentagon recognized Dyess, and Abilene, is the right place at the right time,” Blair said.
The B-21s will replace the fleets of B-1s and B-2s.
As the B-1 begins phasing into likely retirement, MAC will continue to work for a smooth transition between it and the B-21. A specific timeline has not been announced publicly, but the first bombers are expected to begin rolling off the assembly lines of Northrop Grumman in the mid-2020s.
“Until the last B-1 leaves Dyess, we will continue to vigorously advocate for funding to keep it as a vital component in our nation’s defense. We will work to make sure upgrades to the aircraft and its systems continue,” Blair said.
“We are ecstatic,” said Gray Bridwell, vice president of Military Affairs at the Abilene Chamber. “Of course, this means a lot to Abilene and the Big Country economically — likely more personnel, more military construction, more stability of missions. But it is more than money. The Airmen and their families become integrated assets into our community – soccer coaches, Sunday School teachers, hardworking employees of all sorts of businesses, and great neighbors.”
“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.
The Military Affairs Committee (MAC) is a public-private partnership of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce, Development Corporation of Abilene, individuals and businesses. Through its 275 members, MAC advocates for expansion and preservation of missions at Dyess and cares for the needs of military members and their families.