Frequently Asked Questions

B-21 Main Operating Base 1 Beddown EIS frequently asked questions.
Q. Why is the Air Force developing a new bomber?
A. U.S. adversaries have invested heavily in sophisticated technologies and weapons platforms rendering the majority of our current bomber fleet incapable of penetrating these advanced air defense environments. A new bomber is critical to deterring potential adversaries, reassuring our allies, and keeping our nation safe. The new B-21 will be a long-range bomber that can support a large and flexible payload, with the ability to penetrate these modern air defenses and strike any target worldwide.
Q. What capabilities and role does the B-21 bring to the Air Force?
A. As adversaries continue to invest in and develop advanced weapons, the B-21 will provide our nation with a strategic asset capable of penetrating enemy air defenses in highly contested environments and striking targets anywhere in the world.
Q. Why is the B-21 named “Raider”?
A. At the 2016 Air Force Association’s Air, Space, and Cyber Conference, then-Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, alongside Lt. Col. Dick Cole, the last surviving Airman from the famous Doolittle Raid, announced the B-21 would be named “Raider.” The Doolittle Raiders are known for their surprise attack against Japan during World War II on April 18, 1942, which forced the Japanese to recall combat forces for home defense, and boosted morale among Americans and U.S. allies abroad. James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein selected the name from more than 2,000 naming submissions.
Q. Why is the Air Force announcing the decision now when you won’t be receiving the B-21s until the mid-2020s?
A. To meet the estimated timelines for military construction at the first location, the Air Force has begun its environmental analysis.
Q. What are the timelines for B-21 arrivals at the existing bomber locations?
A. The first B-21 Raider is expected to begin arriving as early as the mid-2020s. Additional timelines are dependent on the aircraft delivery schedule.
Q. Did the Air Force consider other bases for the B-21?
A. The Air Force Strategic Basing Process analyzed all continental U.S. active duty bases and subsequently eliminated non-bomber bases because they had limited runway lengths, ramp and hangar requirements, and insufficient concrete strength required for bomber operations. These factors inhibited their ability to support the B-21 mission. Barksdale and Minot AFBs were also considered, but continuing the B-52 mission leaves them with insufficient capacity for the additional B-21 mission. Moving B-52s to other bomber bases brings excessive costs and introduces unnecessary operational risks and impacts.
Q. Since Ellsworth, Whiteman, and Dyess AFBs are getting B-21s, does that also mean they are getting a Weapons Generation Facility?
A. Yes. Weapons Generation Facilities will soon be in the initial planning phase at Ellsworth, Whiteman and Dyess AFBs. The Air Force is currently assessing its strategy for WGFs and more details will become available soon. Barring significant changes in the strategic environment, AFGSC is conducting planning efforts at seven locations to include all three ICBM bases.
Q. If the Air Force has already decided which bases are going to receive the B-21s, why are you developing an EIS?
A. Under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Air Force is required to conduct environmental analyses for any major federal action that is proposed to occur, to determine the environmental impact from the proposed activities and provide the public and other stakeholders an opportunity to comment on the action and associated analyses. The basing of the new B-21 bomber aircraft constitutes a major federal action, and thus an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) must be developed for this or any other aircraft beddown activity. Based on the Strategic Basing Process, the Air Force selected three locations as reasonable alternatives to establish main operating bases for the B-21 Raider. These locations were based on their ability to support incoming aircraft and associated operations. The National Environmental Policy Act requires the action agency, in this case the Air Force, to evaluate all reasonable alternatives in an EIS.
Q. Who makes the final decision on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)?
A. The Secretary of the Air Force has final decision authority after completion of the environmental analyses.
Q. What if the analysis in the Environmental Impact Statement shows there will be a negative significant impact?
A. If the analysis suggests a potentially significant impact would occur from the Proposed Action, the Air Force would develop appropriate mitigation measures to offset any adverse impacts.
Q. How many B-21 aircraft will arrive at each base and when?
A. Due to the classified nature of this program, we cannot comment publicly on the specific number of aircraft going to each base or when they will arrive.
Q. What Military Construction (MILCON) is expected, how much is it expected to cost, and when will the Air Force break ground?
A. There are numerous variables that can determine when and where military construction can begin such as weather, skills, equipment and supplies. The Air Force is in the process of conducting formal site surveys to develop MILCON requirements, estimates and schedules that will further refine MILCON projects and budgets. Additionally, the Environmental Impact Statement currently being conducted will provide some information on proposed construction activities associated with the preferred Main Operating Base (MOB 1) as those details become available for the analysis.
Q. How many people are expected to arrive at each base and when?
A. The EIS will provide information on the proposed number of personnel and associated impacts as that information becomes available for the analysis.
Q. When do you expect the Environmental Impact Statement to be complete and final decisions made?
A. At this time, we expect the environmental analyses to be complete in 2021 and the Record of Decision to be signed later that year.
Q. Where can I receive additional information or stay informed on the progress of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)?
A. This public website provides information on the project, including dates and locations of public meetings, a method for providing comments to the Air Force, and the EIS documents as they become available. The Air Force will also publish a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register announcing the intention to prepare an EIS and notifying the public of upcoming scoping meetings and the dates of the public scoping period.